Federal – Amazon purchasers’ class-action competition claims referred to arbitration – #683

In Difederico v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2022 FC 1256, Justice Furlanetto of the Federal Court granted Defendants’ motion to refer to arbitration claims asserted under section 45 of the Competition Act, RSC 1985, c C-34 (the “Competition Act”) by a proposed class representative plaintiff. Of interest to arbitration observers, the judgment considered the circumstances which qualify as “commercial legal relationships” within the meaning of the United Nations Foreign Arbitral Awards Convention Act, RSC 1985, c 16 (2nd sup) (“UNFAACA”), the statute which implements the New York Convention into the federal law of Canada. The New York Convention, Article II(3), requires a court of a contracting State, at the request of a party, to refer claims covered by an arbitration agreement to arbitration, unless the arbitration agreement is null and void, inoperative, or incapable of being performed. This case also features detailed analysis of the access-to-justice exception to the competence-competence principle recognized in Uber Technologies, Inc. v. Heller, 2020 SCC 16 (“Uber”).

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Alberta – Court reviews preliminary jurisdictional award for correctness de novo – #663

In Ong v Fedoruk, 2022 ABQB 557, Justice Bourque confirmed that under subsection 17(9) of the Alberta Arbitration Act(“the Act“), the court reviews preliminary jurisdictional awards in domestic arbitrations for correctness on a de novo basis. In doing so, Ong aligned the standard of review and procedure in Alberta with the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court in The Russian Federation v. Luxtona Limited, 2021 ONSC 4604 (“Luxtona”), a case decided under the comparable provision of Ontario’s International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, SO 2017, c 2, Sch 5 (“ICAA”), which implements the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”). However, it diverged from Ace Bermuda Insurance Ltd. v Allianz Insurance Company of Canada, 2005 ABQB 975 (“Ace Bermuda”), an international case which applied a review standard of “reasonableness, deference & respect” under Alberta’s International Commercial Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c I-5, which also implements the Model Law. That case as a precedent may now be in doubt, considering the trend in Canadian and other Model Law jurisdictions in favor of non-deferential review of preliminary jurisdictional decisions of arbitral tribunals.

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