England – Court clarifies requirements for validly appointing arbitrators – #646

As our readers know, Canadian courts have been generating a wealth of jurisprudence on many international arbitration-related issues of late. However, there are still some lacunae in Canadian jurisprudence, which courts will often fill by referring to jurisprudence from other leading arbitral jurisdictions, including England and UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Article 2A(1) of the Model Law explicitly provides for this: “In the interpretation of this Law, regard is to be had to its international origin and to the need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith.” Because of this, Arbitration Matters will occasionally report on interesting cases from other jurisdictions which could be applied in Canada if the issue were to present itself here. One such case made our radar this week, because it deals with an issue that is seldom fought about in Canada: whether an arbitrator was validly appointed. In ARI v. WXJ, [2022] EWHC 1543 (Comm), Justice Foxton of the English Commercial Court rejected the Claimant’s argument that the Respondent’s appointee was invalidly appointed, and that the arbitrator appointed by the Claimant should therefore decide the dispute as sole arbitrator.

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Québec – 10-year limitation for foreign award recognition and enforcement– #644

In Itani v. Société Générale de Banque au Liban SAL, 2022 QCCA 920, the Québec Court of Appeal (Schrager, Moore, and Kalichman JJA) considered the limitation period for recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award rendered outside Québec. The Court applied the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Yugraneft Corp. v. Rexx Management Corp., 2010 SCC 19, confirming that recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award is governed by the rules of procedure applicable in the territory in which the application is made―so it differs from province to province. The Court of Appeal considered the applicable provisions of the Québec Civil Code and ruled that the application to recognize and enforce the arbitral award was subject to a 10-year limitation period, upholding the decision of Justice Poulin at first instance.

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Québec – Court prevents “improper attempt to circumvent” final ICC award – #634

In Eurobank Ergasias v. Bombardier inc., 2022 QCCA 802, a majority of the Québec Court of Appeal (Mainville and Baudouin, JJ.A.): (1) confirmed the homologation of an ICC Arbitral Tribunal Final Award (“Final Award”); (2) confirmed the trial judge’s decision that a Québec bank did not have to pay under a Letter of Counter-Guarantee that was called upon, the purpose of which was the evasion of the binding ICC arbitration process; and (3) overturned the trial judge’s decision to direct the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence (“HMOD”), a branch of the Greek government,  to comply with the Final Award because HMOD was not an entity domiciled in Québec and homologation is for the purpose of rendering the Final Award legally binding in Québec, not in Greece.

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Québec – Court extends arbitrator’s immunity to appointing authority – #619

In B Smart Technology inc. v. American Arbitration Association, 2022 QCCS 1526, Justice Mark Phillips granted the Defendants’ Application for dismissal of the Plaintiff’s Request for Provisional Interlocutory Injunction and Order to Safeguard the Rights of Plaintiff. The Defendants were the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) and the arbitrator it had appointed. In its Request, Plaintiff sought orders: (1) to recuse and replace the arbitrator; (2) to review the arbitration proceedings, including the costs of the proceedings, the reimbursement for arbitrator’s fees paid to date; and (3) alternatively, the annulment of the arbitration clause and referral of the dispute to the Superior Court. Justice Phillips’s judgment was mainly based on the application of two well-known principles in arbitration law: arbitrator protection against prosecution/immunity (sec. 621 CCP); and the exclusion of court review except as provided by law (sec. 622 CCP). Justice Phillips reaffirmed that the arbitrator’s protection against prosecution is broad and applies both to the arbitrator’s liability and to any challenges against the conduct of the arbitration process itself. He found that the institute offering arbitration services is covered by the protection as well. Justice Phillips also confirmed the exclusion of court review principle, which prevents courts from interfering in an arbitration process other than within the strict and limited occasions provided by law. In this case, the law did not provide for court intervention. Finally, the issue was moot because the arbitrator terminated the arbitration for the Plaintiffs’ failure to pay his costs, as he was entitled to do under the AAA Rules.

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Ontario – Clause specifying non-exclusive attornment to courts doesn’t override arbitration clause – #609

In Husky Food Importers v. JH Whittaker & Sons, 2022 ONSC 1679, Justice Conway granted a stay of proceedings in favour of arbitration despite an allegation that no underlying agreement was ever finalized and notwithstanding a clause stating that the courts of New Zealand had non-exclusive jurisdiction.

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Ontario – Standard of review: set aside for applicant’s “inability to present his case” – #596

In Nelson v The Government of the United Mexican States, 2022 ONSC 1193, Justice Penny dismissed Nelson’s application to set aside the award of a three-member tribunal constituted under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). Nelson relied upon Article 34(2)(a)(ii) of the Model Law, which allows the court to set aside an award on the basis that the applicant was, “otherwise unable to present his case”. Justice Penny relied upon the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision of Consolidated Contractors Group S.A.L. (Offshore) v. Ambatovy Minerals S.A., 2017 ONCA 939, at para. 65, leave to appeal refused, 2018 CarswellOnt 17927 (S.C.C), which held that the standard of review for setting aside an award under Article 34(2)(a)(ii) is whether the tribunal’s conduct is “sufficiently serious to offend our most basic notions of morality and justice” and “that it cannot be condoned under the law of the enforcing State”.

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