Federal – Amazon purchasers’ class-action competition claims referred to arbitration – #683

In Difederico v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2022 FC 1256, Justice Furlanetto of the Federal Court granted Defendants’ motion to refer to arbitration claims asserted under section 45 of the Competition Act, RSC 1985, c C-34 (the “Competition Act”) by a proposed class representative plaintiff. Of interest to arbitration observers, the judgment considered the circumstances which qualify as “commercial legal relationships” within the meaning of the United Nations Foreign Arbitral Awards Convention Act, RSC 1985, c 16 (2nd sup) (“UNFAACA”), the statute which implements the New York Convention into the federal law of Canada. The New York Convention, Article II(3), requires a court of a contracting State, at the request of a party, to refer claims covered by an arbitration agreement to arbitration, unless the arbitration agreement is null and void, inoperative, or incapable of being performed. This case also features detailed analysis of the access-to-justice exception to the competence-competence principle recognized in Uber Technologies, Inc. v. Heller, 2020 SCC 16 (“Uber”).

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Québec – Court dismisses application challenging arbitral tribunal’s joinder of non-signatory – #680

In Newtech Waste Solutions inc. c. Asselin, 2022 QCCS 3537, Justice Bellavance dismissed an application challenging an arbitral tribunal’s jurisdictional decision to join a non-signatory corporation to an arbitration. Justice Bellavance validated the tribunal’s application of jurisprudence on joinder of non-signatories to arbitrations seated in Québec. Although the non-signatory was a stranger to the arbitration agreement, the arbitral tribunal found, and Justice Bellavance agreed, that it was appropriate to join it based on a prima facie showing that the corporation was one of the parties’ alter ego.

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Québec – Fragmentation of shareholders dispute stayed pending appeal on jurisdiction – #678

In Istanboulian v Kalajian, 2022 QCCA 1259, Justice Cournoyer granted leave to appeal from a judgment of the Québec Superior Court, which had referred part of a claim to arbitration. He found that the judgment under appeal caused irremediable injury to the Applicants by possibly preventing them from being heard in the appropriate forum and that it was in the interest of justice to immediately get to the bottom of the jurisdictional issue.

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Ontario – Domestic arbitration statutes can supplement industry-specific arbitration schemes – #675

In Neuhaus Management Ltd v. Huang, 2022 ONSC 5548, the Ontario Divisional Court (Firestone RSJ, Stewart, and Akhtar JJ.) examined how Ontario’s domestic arbitration statute can be incorporated into and be read together with an industry-specific statutory arbitration scheme, the  Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, R.S.O.1990, c.O.31 (the “Ontario New Home Warranties Act”).

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Ontario – Limitations defence not a matter of arbitral jurisdiction – #674

In Cruickshank Construction Ltd. v The Corporation of the City of Kingston, 2022 ONSC 5704, Justice Myers allowed an application to appoint an arbitrator, providing his views on the method for that appointment. He also dismissed the Respondent’s cross-application for a declaration that the notice of arbitration was limitation-barred and that the Applicant had not complied with preconditions to arbitration in the parties’ agreement. Justice Myers held that there was no basis in the Ontario Arbitration Act, 1991, SO 1991, c 17 (“Arbitration Act”) to permit the court to grant the cross-application and the grounds raised were not matters of arbitral jurisdiction.

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Quebec – The broad powers of an arbitrator as “amiable composer” – #673

In Investissements immobiliers MB inc. c. SMP Direct inc., 2022 QCCS 3315, Justice Godbout affirmed the broad jurisdiction that an arbitrator has to grant remedies in oppression claims, especially when empowered as an ‘amiable composer’. An ‘amiable composer’ may make a binding decision based on equity (rather than law) and without procedural formalities. It is a role that has its roots in civil law (“amiable compositeur”).

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