Alberta – Third party beneficiary of contract bound by arbitration clause – #784

In Husky Oil Operations Limited v Technip Stone & Webster Process Technology Inc, 2023 ABKB 545, the issue before the Court was whether a third party beneficiary of a contract was bound by the contract’s arbitration clause in a dispute concerning the contractual warranties. The Court answered the question in the affirmative. While the plaintiff was not a party to the contract containing the arbitration clause, it was given rights to enforce certain warranties. Since the plaintiff chose to enforce its third party rights under the contract, it was bound by the contract’s arbitration clause. The plaintiff was required to arbitrate its warranty claims, which were time-barred, as the limitation period had expired. However, the plaintiff’s negligence claims were not arbitrable as they did not arise out of the contract and those claims, which were brought by way of action, were not affected by the expiry of the limitation period to arbitrate.

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Ontario –  A pathological med-arb clause – #781

Stothers v Kazeks, 2023 ONSC 5021 is a perfect example of the confusion about the med-arb process that I covered in my last case note: Med-arb process was “fundamentally flawed” – #775. If you want to skip to the language of the pathological so-called med-arb clause without the factual background in this case, just scroll down to just above the Editor’s Notes section.

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Ontario – Arbitrator to decide whether non-signatories are bound to arbitrate – #776

In We Care Community Operating Ltd. v Bhardwaj, 2023 ONSC 4747, the Court granted the Plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration under a Co-Ownership Agreement that related to a development property in Toronto. The Court deferred to the arbitrator the question of whether certain corporate entities – which were not signatories to the Co-Ownership Agreement – were nonetheless bound by the arbitration agreement contained in it.

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Ontario – Competing “jurisdiction” clauses result in application for stay being dismissed – #743

In RH20 North America Inc. et al v. Bergmann et al, 2023 ONSC 2378, the moving defendants brought both a motion under Rule 21 striking out certain of the plaintiff’s claims as disclosing no reasonable cause of action, and an application for a stay for want of jurisdiction on the basis of arbitration clauses in their underlying contracts with the plaintiffs. They met with divided success. While granting relief on the Rule 21 motion, Justice Valente dismissed the stay application on a variety of grounds, including that there were competing arbitration and jurisdiction clauses and that there was an attornment to the court’s jurisdiction as a result of bringing the Rule 21 motion.

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BC – Court determines arbitrator jurisdiction, exercising exception to competence-competence – #726

In Isagenix International LLC v. Harris, 2023 BCCA 96, Justice Griffin, for the British Columbia Court of Appeal, upheld an order dismissing the Appellant’s application made pursuant to section 8 of the International Commercial Arbitration Act, RSBC 1996, c 233 (the “ICCA”) for a stay of proceedings in favour of arbitration. In particular, she rejected the Appellant’s argument that the chambers justice had misapplied the principle of competence-competence by deciding the question about whether the underlying negligence claim fell within the scope of the arbitration clause, rather than referring the jurisdictional matter to the arbitrator. Justice Griffin found that the chambers justice did not err in law because he came within one of the well-established exceptions to the competence-competence rule.

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Ontario – ‘Parochial’ perspective on expert determination rejected – #708

In KMH Cardiology Centres Incorporated v Lambardar Inc., 2022 ONSC 7139, Justice Myers referred a dispute for expert determination pursuant to the parties’ agreement. He concluded that the parties intended the dispute to be determined by an expert, and not arbitration, even though it required the expert to engage in the exercise of contractual interpretation and not simply a mathematical calculation.

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Liz’s 2022 Hot Topic: Treatment of arbitration agreements in 2022 – #703

My hot topic for 2022 is the treatment of arbitration agreements by the courts. Frequently, challenges to arbitral jurisdiction and appeals are brought on the basis of the scope and enforceability of an arbitration agreement. A review of a number of cases within the last year indicates a trend that a strongly, and often broadly drafted agreements are frequently the difference between a successful and unsuccessful court challenge. This case note will review a number of notable cases we have seen this past year.

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Lisa’s 2022 Hot Topic #1: Arbitrator resignation – the when, how, and what next? – #696

Although there is provision in most provincial domestic arbitration legislation and the Model Law for the resignation of the arbitrator, there is little guidance on when the arbitrator may do so and the potential consequences once that occurs. However, two cases released in 2022 are helpful in that they suggest: (1) potential limitations on the discretion of an arbitrator to resign, regardless of the rights contained in the legislation; and (2) how the parties many anticipate this issue and provide for it in their arbitration agreement if it is important, so as to minimize the inevitable disruption that arises when an arbitrator resigns.

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Ontario – Shareholders dispute stayed where 2 of 3 agreements had arbitration clauses – #690

In 12823543 Canada Ltd. v Mizrahi Commercial (The One) GP Inc., 2022 ONSC 6206, Justice Penny granted an application to stay the proceeding commenced before the Superior Court of Justice and referred the matter to the appropriate arbitral tribunal to decide its jurisdiction. He found that the moving parties had raised an arguable case as to the application of the relevant arbitration agreements to the dispute and that the principle of compétence-compétence therefore favoured directing the parties to address their arguments to the arbitral tribunal regarding its jurisdiction. Only two of the three agreements at issue contained an arbitration agreement and yet Justice Penny was swayed by the nature of the dispute, grounded in a broad oppression claim, and considered that the Applicant’s allegations raised issues that went straight to the ability of the shareholders to make decisions of fundamental significance to their joint project.

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Newfoundland and Labrador – Objections to litigation to be raised early (even if tentative) – #655

In 55668 Newfoundland and Labrador Limited v. Sullivan, 2022, NLSC 127, a franchisor-franchisee dispute arose between the parties. The Franchise Agreement contained an arbitration clause, however, the Plaintiffs proceeded by way of Statement of Claim. The Defendants did not take the position that the dispute was to be referred to arbitration in their original pleading, relying upon the Statement of Claim, which referred to conduct that occurred after the Franchise Agreement had been terminated. Later, the Plaintiffs corrected their pleading to provide that the impugned conduct occurred pre-termination. The parties disputed whether the arbitration clause terminated with the termination of the Franchise Agreement, and also whether the dispute fell within the scope of the arbitration clause. At trial, the Defendants argued that they had been prejudiced by the pleading amendment, which they asserted clearly gave them the right to arbitration. Justice Knickle held that, assuming the dispute fell within the terms of the arbitration clause, arbitration may have been the available option. However, the Defendants knew from the beginning of the litigation that the facts that were relevant to the dispute covered the period both before and after the termination; their failure to plead their right to arbitration in their Statement of Defence meant that they were out of time to object.

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