Alberta – Arbitral award enforced despite Russian sanctions  – #685

In Angophora Holdings Limited v. Ovsyankin, 2022 ABKB 711, Justice Romaine dismissed an application by an arbitral award debtor to stay enforcement of the award issued in favour of a party indirectly owned and controlled by Russian bank Gazprombank JSC, which is an entity subject to Russian sanctions. 

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Ontario – No appeal lies from preliminary jurisdictional decision – #666

In Iris Technologies Inc. v. Rogers Communications Canada Inc., 2022 ONCA 634, the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed a motion for leave to appeal from the lower court’s decision in which it was asked to  “decide the matter” of arbitral jurisdiction under the Ontario Arbitration Act, 1991. The Court of Appeal confirmed its earlier decision, United Mexican States v. Burr, 2021 ONCA 64, made under the Ontario International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017. The Court also made it clear that no appeal lies from lower court decisions which “decide the matter” of arbitral jurisdiction when the question comes before the court as a preliminary issue before the final award is rendered.

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England – Court clarifies requirements for validly appointing arbitrators – #646

As our readers know, Canadian courts have been generating a wealth of jurisprudence on many international arbitration-related issues of late. However, there are still some lacunae in Canadian jurisprudence, which courts will often fill by referring to jurisprudence from other leading arbitral jurisdictions, including England and UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Article 2A(1) of the Model Law explicitly provides for this: “In the interpretation of this Law, regard is to be had to its international origin and to the need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith.” Because of this, Arbitration Matters will occasionally report on interesting cases from other jurisdictions which could be applied in Canada if the issue were to present itself here. One such case made our radar this week, because it deals with an issue that is seldom fought about in Canada: whether an arbitrator was validly appointed. In ARI v. WXJ, [2022] EWHC 1543 (Comm), Justice Foxton of the English Commercial Court rejected the Claimant’s argument that the Respondent’s appointee was invalidly appointed, and that the arbitrator appointed by the Claimant should therefore decide the dispute as sole arbitrator.

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Ontario – Receiver not bound by international arbitration clause with foreign seat – #626

In Royal Bank of Canada v. Mundo Media Ltd., 2022 ONSC 2147, Justice Penny found that a court-appointed receiver was not required to arbitrate claims under New York law-governed contracts that provided for JAMS arbitration seated in New York. He found that the B.C. Court of Appeal’s analysis in Petrowest Corporation v. Peace River Hydro Partners, 2020 BCCA 339, which focused on the separability of the arbitration clause, was not binding on him, and declined to follow it. Rather, Justice Penny focused on the insolvency law “single proceeding” doctrine. He found that the appointment of the receiver rendered the arbitration clause “inoperative”.

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Federal – Pirating action stayed under New York Convention – #610

In General Entertainment and Music Inc. v. Gold Line Telemanagement Inc., 2022 FC 418, Justice Fothergill of the Federal Court allowed an appeal of the prothonatory’s order and stayed an action for breach of certain provisions of the Copyright Act, the Trademarks Act and the Radiocommunication Act in favour of arbitration seated in Bermuda. In doing so, he applied Article II.3 of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) and the Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisprudence on staying court proceedings in favour of arbitration.  The prothonatory erred in applying the law relating to a forum selection clause to an arbitration clause.

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Ontario – Court overturns decision, “deciding the matter” of jurisdiction de novo – #586

In Electek Power Services Inc. v. Greenfield Energy Centre Limited Partnership, 2022 ONSC 894, Justice Perell set aside a preliminary jurisdiction decision rendered by a three-person arbitral tribunal. The tribunal found that the parties had agreed to arbitrate their dispute. The matter came before the court as an application under section 17(8) of the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17, which provides that the court may “decide the matter” of a jurisdictional objection where the arbitral tribunal rules on the objection as a preliminary question. Following the approach set out by the Divisional Court in The Russian Federation v. Luxtona Limited, 2021 ONSC 4604 (Lisa’s 2021 Top Pick: Ontario – Russian Federation v. Luxtona Limited (Part 1) – #564), Justice Perell held that he was required to “decide the matter” of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate on a de novo basis. He explicitly rejected the submission that administrative law or appellate standards of review have any relevance in an application to the court to “decide the matter” of whether parties agreed to arbitrate their dispute.

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