Alberta – Award was “abbreviated” to save time and costs – #544

In Alvarez v Alvarez, 2021 ABQB 717, Justice Malik denied leave to appeal an arbitrator’s award on a question of law pursuant to section 44(2) of the Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c. A-43. He found that no question of law was raised. However, the case raises issues  concerning s. 44(1) of the Act, which allows a party to ask the tribunal to “correct typographical errors, errors of calculation and similar errors in the award”  and s. 40, which permits a party to ask the tribunal to “explain any matter” in the award. The arbitrator issued an Award, and later at the request of the applicant, a Corrected Award, which included a “nominal correction”. It also addressed the applicant’s requests for correction, but made no changes to the Award. Before Justice Malik, the applicant argued (unsuccessfully) that the Award and Corrected Award contained errors of law. Justice Malik noted that the, “[a]rbitrator acknowledged that the Award was abbreviated to save time and costs, that just because he had not set out every fact or argument did not mean he had not considered them, and that a party could request additional reasons should they wish to pay the additional cost.”  The applicant argued on the application for leave to appeal that the arbitrator had not explained his Award sufficiently. The decision does not indicate whether the parties requested an abbreviated award to save time and costs. The Award was issued 8 months after the close of hearings.

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Alberta – Court finds that submissions of counsel and opinions and ruling of arbitrator in a quashed arbitration inadmissible – #516

In Flock Estate v. Flock, 2019 ABCA 194, the Alberta Court of Appeal (Mr. Justice Frans Slatter, Madam Justice Myra Bielby and Mr. Justice Thomas W. Wakeling) overturned the chambers justice’s decision to admit affidavit evidence referring to a related arbitration in respect of which the award was ultimately quashed and found to be a nullity. The Court found there was a distinction on the one hand between—the arbitrator’s opinion and ruling about what should happen in that case (which is not evidence of anything other than his personal opinion) and counsel’s submissions (which is not evidence but argument)—and on the other hand, actual evidence put before the arbitrator. The former held no probative value and was inadmissible. With respect to the latter, the Court held that the sworn testimony given by the parties during the arbitration ”might” be admissible, but that the related exhibits were presumptively inadmissible.

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Alberta – dispute requiring expert evidence and expeditious resolution prompts court to propose arbitration – #505

In Canadian Consulting Engineers Inc v. Brazeau (County), 2021 ABQB 464, Master W. Scott Schlosser declined to proceed by way of summary judgment because “this dispute is not now capable of being resolved in a fair and just way on the existing record” and required the assistance of expert opinion witnesses.  Master Schlosser observed that plaintiff made “no pretense of applying for a summary determination in the course of an ordinary lawsuit” and that its “strategy appears to have been to prepare this case for Summary Judgment directly”.  Having observed plaintiff’s “very ambitious path taken” and desire to “seek expeditious resolution” and having qualified the dispute as unsuitable for summary judgment due to the expert evidence required, Master Schlosser did prompt the parties to engage in the arbitration still available in their contract and, when doing so, to retain “an expert arbitrator”.

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Alberta – allocation of lien security to subcontractors adjourned pending arbitration between owners and general contractor – #492

In Avli BRC Developments Inc v. BMP Construction Management Ltd, 2021 ABQB 412, Master Andrew R. Robertson Q.C. adjourned an application for costs claimed against security provided further to an order under Alberta’s Builders’ Lien Act, RSA 2000, c B-7, holding that he could not determine and allocate amounts owing to subcontractors or related costs until a pending arbitration decided the amounts owing between the building owners and the general contractor.

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Alberta – Arbitration Act does not incorporate court’s powers in Rules of Court to extend delays – #489

In Mailer v. Mailer, 2021 ABQB 423, Mr. Justice Michael J. Lema confirmed he had no authority to extend the delay in which to file an application for leave to appeal an arbitration award, noting that the “Arbitration Act [RSA 2000, c A-43] does not provide for extensions of the s. 46 deadlines, whether directly or indirectly e.g. by incorporating the extension powers in the [Alberta Rules of Court, Alta Reg 124/2010]”.  The party seeking to challenge the award had filed an appeal as of right within the thirty (30) day delay but did not seek leave within that delay. The parties had agreed that their award “shall be subject to an appeal only on question of law in accordance with s. 44(2) of the Arbitration Act” and Lema J. held that their addition of the phrase “in accordance with s. 44(2)” changed the meaning of the first eleven (11) words, imposing a leave requirement.  Though the party appealed in the relevant delay, he failed to comply with the requirements of section 44(2) to seek leave and Lema J. lacked authority to remedy that procedural decision.

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Alberta – absent summary judgment motion, stay granted because summary judgment exemption is premature – #481

In Melcor Reit Limited Partnership (Melcor Reit GP Inc) v. TDL Group Corp (Tim Hortons), 2021 ABQB 379, Master W. Scott Schlosser stayed a proceeding because plaintiff’s reliance on the summary judgment exemption in section 7(2)(e) of Alberta’s Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43 was “at the very least premature”.  Master Schlosser held that a party resisting referral to arbitration under section 7(2)(e) must have first filed a summary judgment application and, until doing so, the exemption was not in issue.  Master Schlosser also contrasted the state of summary judgment principles applicable when the Arbitration Act was first introduced and the current status of those principles following Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 (CanLII), [2014] 1 SCR 87.  He noted that “[s]omething now suitable for Summary Judgment is quite different from what might have been suitable when Section 7(2)(e) of the Arbitration Act was passed into law” and “[a]n expansive reading of summary disposition is likely much wider than what was originally intended by the Act”.

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