Ontario – Stay Granted where Competing Arguable Interpretations of Scope of Arbitration Agreement – #648

In Biancucci v Buttarazzi, 2022 ONSC 4054, Justice Myers followed the analytical framework for a stay application under s. 7 of the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17  (the “Act”) as set out in Haas v. Gunasekaram, 2016 ONCA 744. The arbitration agreement at issue was contained in a settlement agreement, and interconnected litigation and arbitration taking place over a decade made analysis of the scope of the arbitration agreement complex. Ultimately, Justice Myers confirmed that there were competing arguable interpretations of scope and granted the stay, leaving jurisdiction to be ultimately determined by the arbitral panel.

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Ontario – Costs in both arbitration and court guided by same principles – #630

In Electek Power Services Inc. v. Greenfield Energy Centre Limited Partnership, 2022 ONSC 2437, Justice Perell held that when awarding costs, the discretion of both an arbitrator and the court are the same: both are guided by reasonableness and the fair and reasonable expectations of the unsuccessful party.

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Ontario – Clause specifying non-exclusive attornment to courts doesn’t override arbitration clause – #609

In Husky Food Importers v. JH Whittaker & Sons, 2022 ONSC 1679, Justice Conway granted a stay of proceedings in favour of arbitration despite an allegation that no underlying agreement was ever finalized and notwithstanding a clause stating that the courts of New Zealand had non-exclusive jurisdiction.

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B.C. – Arbitrator’s Analysis Must not let Factual Matrix Overwhelm Text of Contract – #588

In Grewal v. Mann, 2022 BCCA 30, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal of an order granting leave to appeal an arbitral award. In doing so, the Court of Appeal confirmed the bounds of contractual interpretation, including the principle that the analysis must remain grounded in the text of the contract. 

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Laura’s 2021 Top Pick: B.C. – Spirit Bay Developments Limited Partnership v. Scala Developments Consultants Ltd. – #569

Spirit Bay Developments Limited Partnership v Scala Developments Consultants Ltd., 2021 BCSC 1415, is part of a series of cases that leave an important question undetermined at the end of 2021: what is Vavilov’s impact on commercial arbitration appeals? Although on its own Spirit Bay is not the most significant case of the year, the impact of the Vavilov on commercial arbitration appeals will be studied with interest by arbitration practitioners in 2022 and is an important aspect of arbitration jurisprudence in 2021.

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Québec – Arbitration clause interpreted liberally; ambiguity resolved using regular contract interpretation principles – #551

In 9369-1426 Québec Inc. DBA Restaurant Bâton Rouge v. Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company, 2021 QCCA 1594, the parties disagreed about whether the plaintiff could bring a class action to resolve a coverage dispute or whether the dispute was required to go to arbitration. The policy contained both a stepped arbitration clause and a clause that said that the courts in the Court District in which the insured was located shall have exclusive jurisdiction in case of a coverage dispute. The Québec Court of Appeal confirmed that arbitration clauses should be interpreted in a large and liberal manner. If there is ambiguity, the usual principles of contractual interpretation apply without regard to any presumption that ambiguities are to be resolved to preserve a plaintiff’s right to resort to courts. The court found that the proper interpretation of the policy required coverage disputes to be arbitrated.

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