B.C. – Danger of Bifurcated Proceedings – #846

In G & T Martini Holdings Ltd. v. Desert Properties Inc., 2024 BCSC 828, the Court dismissed a petition under s. 58(1)(c) of the Arbitration Act, S.B.C. 2020, c. 2 (“Arbitration Act”) to set aside an arbitral award after a bifurcated arbitration.  The Petitioner claimed that the Arbitrator had changed the rationale of the earlier liability award and was precluded from calculating damages in the manner it did at the damages stage after the Arbitrator’s earlier award on liability.  The Court found that the Arbitrator did not improperly change his decision on liability in the damages award, but instead merely elucidated upon his rationale for the decision he made in the liability award.

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B.C. – No arbitrator bias where prima facie merits and credibility determinations made – #833

In Johnston v. Octaform Inc., 2024 BCSC 537, the Court dismissed a petition to have an arbitrator removed from an ongoing arbitration on the basis of an alleged reasonable apprehension of bias. The circumstances relied on by the petitioners arose from the arbitrator’s issuance of a freezing order and other procedural directions, in a hard fought and contested arbitration. The fact that the freezing order required the arbitrator to make findings of credibility and preliminary merits determinations did not give rise to bias. Also, the trigger for the 15-day period to challenge an arbitrator for bias is not an “open and fluid concept”.

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B.C. – Stay in favour of non-party to arbitration agreement in multi-party construction dispute – #828

In Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. v. JGC Constructors BC Ltd., 2024 BCSC 344, the Court granted two applications to stay litigation arising out of a large multi-party construction dispute in favour of arbitration.  The first Applicant was a contractor which had a subcontract with the Plaintiff that provided for mandatory arbitration, unless the dispute involved the owner or other project participants.  The second Applicant was the owner, a non-party to the subcontract, which argued that if the litigation was stayed against the contractor, it should be stayed against the owner as well.  The Court applied section 8 of the International Commercial Arbitration Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 233 (“ICAA”) to stay the proceedings against the first Applicant.  The Court also stayed the action against the second Applicant owner pursuant to section 10 of the Law and Equity Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 253 to prevent a multiplicity of proceedings.

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