Ontario – Set- aside application failed; dispute covered by arbitration agreement, no objection to jurisdiction – #616

In Baffinland v Tower-EBC, 2022 ONSC 1900, Justice Pattillo dismissed both: (1) an application to set aside an award from a majority of an arbitral tribunal (the “Majority Award”) under section 46 of the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17 (the “Act”); and (2) an application for an order granting leave to appeal the Majority Award and Costs Award under section 45(1) of the Act. Justice Pattillo found there were no grounds upon which to set aside the Majority Award; there was no lack of jurisdiction or failure to be treated equally and fairly. Nor could leave to appeal be granted under section 45(1) of the Act because the arbitration agreement precluded an appeal.

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Québec – Intervention by appointing authority not permitted on challenge to decision – #613

In Mullen v. Nakisa inc., 2022 QCCS 1164, Justice Lacoste rejected a request that the Canadian Commercial Arbitration Centre (the “CCAC”), an appointing institution, be permitted to intervene in an appeal of a decision by an arbitrator appointed by it. Applying the higher threshold for interventions in private litigation, Justice Lacoste held that there was no reason to permit the CCAC to intervene as it would not add any substance to the arguments on appeal.

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B.C. – Appeal of award granted; arbitrator re-wrote parties’ contract – #611

In Grewal v Mann, 2022 BCSC 555, Justice Iyer allowed the plaintiff’s appeal of an arbitral award dated May 15, 2020, made pursuant to s. 31 of the former British Columbia Arbitration Act, RSBC 1996, c. 55. That provision permitted an appeal from an arbitral award to be brought before the Supreme Court if leave to appeal was granted. Justice Iyer held that the “reasonableness” standard of review applies to appeals of arbitral awards, while acknowledging that the appropriate standard of review is still undecided at the appellate level.  She allowed the appeal and amended the award to provide that disputed funds held in trust were to be released to the plaintiff. She found that the arbitrator had not interpreted the parties Agreement, but rather had written an entirely new one.

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Ontario – Order denying leave to appeal award interlocutory, leave to appeal required – #602

In Mills v Thompson, 2022 ONSC 1525, Justice Charney,  sitting as an Ontario Divisional Court judge, quashed an appeal of the decision of a Superior Court judge denying leave to appeal an arbitral award. The question before him was, “whether a party requires leave to appeal from a decision denying leave to appeal [an arbitral award on a question of law] or may appeal a denial of leave to appeal as of right”. Justice Charney confirmed recent Ontario Court of Appeal jurisprudence holding that a decision of the Superior Court of Justice granting or denying leave to appeal an arbitral award is an interlocutory order in respect of which leave to appeal is required under s. 19(1) of the Ontario Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O., 1990, c. 43, as amended. Any other conclusion would defeat the purpose of the appeal provision in the Ontario Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17, s. 45, which is intended to minimize judicial interference in arbitration. It would be incongruous to allow an appeal of a denial of leave decision as of right, when no such right is provided with respect to an appeal of the correctness of the award itself. The Appellant had not sought leave of the Divisional Court to appeal. Justice Charney quashed the appeal.

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B.C. – Arbitration clause covered contract not tort claims – #600

In Harris v Isagenix International, 2022 BCSC 268, Justice Branch dismissed the defendants’ motion to stay a personal injury action in favour of arbitration, despite an arbitration clause in the parties’ contract. The plaintiff sought damages for personal injuries arising from her use of the defendants’ wellness products. She asserted that the defendants were negligent in the design, manufacture, distribution, marketing and supply of these products (“the Products”). She also relied upon the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 2 (“BPCPA”). The plaintiff was not only a consumer but also sold the products as part of the defendant’s marketing program. She signed two contracts as a result of which she became a “Preferred Customer” of the Products and, later, an “Associate” entitled to sell the products. She placed orders for the Products for herself while she was a “Preferred Customer” and for herself and others as an “Associate”. Therefore, she “wore two hats”. Justice Branch found that the arbitration clause in the applicable contract covered only potential contract claims, not tort claims. The plaintiff’s action was allowed to proceed.

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B.C. – Arbitrator’s Analysis Must not let Factual Matrix Overwhelm Text of Contract – #588

In Grewal v. Mann, 2022 BCCA 30, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal of an order granting leave to appeal an arbitral award. In doing so, the Court of Appeal confirmed the bounds of contractual interpretation, including the principle that the analysis must remain grounded in the text of the contract. 

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