Myriam’s 2021 Top Pick: B.C. – lululemon athletica inc. v. Industrial Color Productions Inc. – #571

Famed Canadian athletic wear company lululemon athletica generated a noteworthy court decision this year, which has nothing to do with the controversy surrounding the sartorial choices it has made in designing Team Canada’s (very red!) uniform for the Beijing Olympics. Rather, the case adds to the significant number of decisions rendered of late in which the courts have grappled with their role – and the tests they must apply – when an application to set aside an international arbitral award comes before them under the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (for a deep dive on this topic, see Lisa’s top pick, Russian Federation v. Luxtona Limited).

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Liz’s 2021 Top Pick: Ontario – CUSO International v. Pan American Development Foundation 2021 ONSC 3101 – #570

This case is my top pick as the facts and issues between the parties serve to highlight the value of the arbitration process, including characteristics related to enforceability, neutral forum, party autonomy, confidentiality and arbitrator selection. It also shows how these matters can deliver tangible benefits to parties.

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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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Lisa’s 2021 Top Pick: Ontario – Russian Federation v Luxtona Limited (Part 2) – #568

In Part 1 (case update #564), I reviewed the decision of Russian Federation v Luxtona Limited, 2018 ONSC 2419, 2019 ONSC 7558, and 2021 ONSC 4604 on the standard of review to be applied on an application to the court pursuant to Model Law Article 16(3) “to decide the matter” where the tribunal has decided jurisdiction “as a preliminary question” and what evidence is admissible on such an application. In this, Part 2, I discuss the interplay between Articles 16(3) and Art 34(2)(a)(iii). So far as I have been able to determine, this issue does not seem to have been categorically resolved anywhere under the Model Law.

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Julie’s 2021 Top Pick: B.C. – Allard v The University of British Columbia – #567

Costs results in domestic commercial arbitrations are often based on, or consistent with, the norms of international commercial arbitration and can differ greatly from what is expected based on standard litigation practice. This can be an unpleasant surprise for counsel and their clients who are unfamiliar with this. In Allard v The University of British Columbia Justice Douglas confirmed that the “starting point”  for an award of costs in domestic commercial arbitration is that the winner is entitled to its reasonable legal fees and disbursements, or what is referred to in litigation practice as “solicitor client costs” or “indemnity costs” and not “party party” costs, which many litigators would expect. There are, of course, exceptions to this “normal rule” for assessing costs. Alberta’s Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43 perhaps provides one, as is discussed below.

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John’s 2021 Top Pick: Ontario – China Yantai Friction Co. Ltd. v. Novalex Inc., 2021 ONSC 3571 and 7714 – #566

My top pick for 2021 stands for the proposition that a foreign award creditor will not be ordered to post security for costs simply by virtue of being a non-resident seeking to recognize and enforce an arbitral award. In China Yantai Friction Co. Ltd. v. Novalex Inc., 2021 ONSC 3571, a three-person panel of the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the “Divisional Court”) granted leave to appeal two interlocutory orders, including the order requiring the foreign award creditor China Yantai Friction Co. Ltd. (“Friction”) to post security for costs in the amount of $76,376.71. This case is important because it provides support for Ontario as an “arbitration-friendly” jurisdiction, and, as the Divisional Court noted, “[13] … it speaks to the response of Canadian courts to international comity and our relationship to the courts of other countries.

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