Ontario – Refusal to respond not a waiver to arbitrate – #686

In Justmark Industries Inc. v. Infinitus (China) Ltd., 2022 ONSC 5495, Justice Williams granted the Defendant/Moving Party’s motion to stay the court action in favour of arbitration. The Plaintiff/Responding Party Justmark Industries Inc. (“Justmark”) commenced the court action for breach of contract against the Defendant/Moving Party Infinitus (China) Ltd. (“Infinitus”). The contract, however, contained an arbitration clause requiring disputes to be arbitrated in Hong Kong by the Arbitration Committee of the International Trade Council (the “ITC”) pursuant to the law of the United Kingdom. As such, Infinitus brought a motion under s 9 of Ontario’s International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017 (the “ICAA”), which incorporates Article 8(1) of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the “Model Law”), to stay the proceedings. In response, Justmark alleged that Infinitus had waived its right to arbitration and thus rendered the arbitration agreement “inoperative” under Model Law Article 8(1). Justmark claimed that Infinitus’s failure to respond to its requests to commence arbitration amounted to waiver. Justice Williams, however, dismissed Justmark’s  argument on the grounds that there was no evidence that “[16] …  Infinitus had the requisite ‘unequivocal and conscious intention,’ or any intention, to abandon its right to arbitrate.

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Ontario – Defendant to stayed action may commence arbitration – #684

In Star Woodworking Ltd. v. Improve Inc., 2022 ONSC 5827, the defendant condominium corporation sought an order that the Court appoint an arbitrator to hear and resolve the plaintiffs’ claims against it. The plaintiffs had originally commenced actions in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and a number of claims were stayed as they were required to be brought in arbitration pursuant to the Condominium Act, 1998, SO 1998, c 19, and the Arbitration Act, 1991, SO 1991, c 17. Justice Myers rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that they could not be forced to be claimants in an arbitration if they did not wish to do so. Justice Myers held that the arbitration was properly commenced pursuant to section 23 of the Arbitration Act, 1991

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Ontario – Foreign award enforcement upheld on appeal despite previous attornment to court – #679

In Wang v. Luo, 2022 ONSC 5544, Justice LeMay, sitting as an Ontario Divisional Court judge, upheld the enforcement of a foreign arbitral award rendered under the auspices of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (“CIETAC”). He rejected the Appellant’s arguments that the Superior Court of Justice erred in enforcing the award, including an argument that enforcement was improper given the Respondent’s previous attempt to pursue its claim before the Ontario Small Claims Court.

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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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Ontario – Does an appeal of a costs award require leave? – #672

In Schickedanz v Wagema Holdings Ltd., 2022 ONSC 5315, Justice Ramsay dismissed the motion by Wagema Holdings Ltd (Respondent on appeal) to quash Appellant Schickedanz’s appeal of a costs award. Wagema argued that leave was required under s. 133(b) of the Ontario Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43 (“CJA”) and so the appeal was also out of time. Justice Ramsay was not persuaded that Wagema would prevail when the issue was determined by the appeal judge. First, the parties’ arbitration agreement contained a broad appeal process, without a leave requirement for costs appeals. Second, there is nothing in s. 45 of the Ontario Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17 that requires leave to appeal a costs award or imports the leave requirement set out in the general costs appeal provision in s. 113(b) of the CJA. Third, the parties could contract out of the appeal provisions in s. 45 of the Arbitration Act pursuant to s. 3. Imposing a leave requirement to appeal a costs award would amount to judicial interference with the parties’ right to contract, which was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in TELUS Communications Inc. v. Wellman, 2019 SCC 19. Ultimately, it would be up to the judge hearing the appeal to decide whether leave was required and, if so, whether the appeal was out of time and whether the appeal had merit.

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