Québec – Arbitrator Need Not Recuse Himself for “Conflict” Created by Party – #845

In Groupe Marsan inc. c. Centre Canadien d’Arbitrage Commercial (CCAC), 2024 QCCS 1838, the Court dismissed the application of Groupe Marsan (“Marsan”), which sought  review of a decision by the Arbitrator, who refused to recuse himself (the “Arbitrator’s Decision”). Concurrent with the ongoing arbitrations, the Arbitrator was also acting as counsel in a parallel proceeding before the Court involving different parties, in which Marsan’s counsel in the arbitrations acted for the opposing party. According to Marsan, this situation raised a reasonable apprehension of bias and the Arbitrator’s refusal to recuse himself violated procedural fairness. The Court found that the Arbitrator rightly concluded that the situation of concurrent representation was created by Marsan’s counsel and that the Arbitrator’s Decision met the standard of procedural fairness.

Alberta – Arbitrator not functus for issuing consent award after party denied settlement – #844

In Caroll v Caroll, 2024 ABKB 227, the Court found that the Arbitrator was not functus officio for issuing a Consent Award after a settlement was reached in a med-arb process.  One party denied the settlement but argued that, in any event, the Arbitrator’s jurisdiction was over after the settlement agreement and it was improper to “crystallize” the agreement into the Award. The Court dismissed this argument and found that there was a settlement. And the process was not unfair. The Arbitrator did not “conflate” the mediation and arbitration phases of the proceeding by terminating the proceeding after the settlement agreement rather than proceeding to arbitration once one party denied the settlement.

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Ontario – Court dismisses action for issue estoppel based on prior arbitration – #840

In Ford v. GMP Securities LP, 2024 ONSC 271, the Court partially dismissed an action for issue estoppel, relying on a 2022 arbitral award that had been rendered as a result of a dispute between a group of shareholders (of which the plaintiff was a part) and an entity that the defendants (investment dealer and senior investment banker) had represented in a reverse take-over process. The defendants were found to be privies of the parties to the previous arbitration, even though they were not parties themselves. The only claims remaining in the Ontario action were the ones that had not been raised or decided in the previous arbitration. 

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Jim Reflects (2023): Browne v Dunn is just a rule of fairness: a comment on the Vento case – #810

I’ll take Vento Motorcycles, Inc. v. United Mexican States 2023 ONSC 5964 (Vento) as my top pick for 2023. It’s a reminder that just because the strict rules of evidence may not apply in an arbitration doesn’t mean the rationale for some of those rules should be ignored. In this case, it was an alleged breach of the rule in Browne v Dunn, the very rule all Commonwealth litigators had beaten into their heads by their professors, their principals, or, for some of the less fortunate among us, a judge. At heart Browne v Dunn is about fairness, and ensuring fairness is a, perhaps the, cornerstone of arbitration.  

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Lindsay Reflects (2023): Enforcement of International Awards: The Procedural Fairness Exception – #808

In this commentary, I provide key takeaways for parties that seek to bring or oppose an application to enforce an international arbitration award in Canada. I focus on three decisions issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2023: Costco Wholesale Corporation v TicketOps Corporation, 2023 ONSC 573 (“Costco”), Prospector PTE Ltd. v CGX Energy Inc, 2023 ONSC 4207 (“Prospector”), and Xiamen International Trade Group Co Ltd. v LinkGlobal Food inc., 2023 ONSC 6491 (“Xiamen”). What is the procedural fairness exception and how does it work?

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Quebec – Streamlined procedures do not deny party’s ability to its present case – #792

In Gagnon c. Truchon, 2023 QCCA 1053, the Quebec Court of Appeal declined leave to appeal the Superior Court’s earlier decision to dismiss an application to annul an award and instead to enforce it. The Court of Appeal concluded that the Applicants had failed to establish “questions of principle” arising out of a “purement privé” fee dispute between the Applicants and their former lawyer. After failing to object to streamlined procedures selected by the Arbitration Council appointed by the Bureau du Québec, the Applicants could not later complain that they were denied the opportunity to present their case.

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Ontario – High bar to oppose enforcement of international arbitral award – #777

In Prospector PTE Ltd v CGX Energy Inc, 2023 ONSC 4207, the Court considered an application by Prospector PTE Ltd. (“Prospector”) for the enforcement of an international arbitration award issued in an ICC arbitration. Prospector brought the application pursuant to the International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, SO 2017, c 2, Sched 5 (“ICAA”), which incorporates the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”). CGX Energy Inc. (“CGX”) opposed the application based on the procedural fairness exception in Article 34(2)(ii)(a) of the Model Law. CGX argued that it was denied the opportunity to fully present its case. However, based on the arbitral award, CGX failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove its counterclaim. The Court granted the enforcement application. Prospector, together with the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Consolidated Contractors Group S.A.L. (Offshore) v. Ambatovy Minerals S.A., 2017 ONCA 939, leave to appeal to the SCC refused, 2018 CanLII 99661 (“Consolidated Contractors”), make clear that the procedural fairness exception in Article 34(2)(ii)(a) is very narrow. A court is not likely to intervene for process or public policy reasons unless the conduct or decision of the tribunal offends the principals of justice and fairness in a fundamental way. 

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International – Deliberation-related documents need not be produced, despite strong dissent – #766

In CZT v CZU, 2023 SGHCI 11, the Singapore International Commercial Court refused to order the arbitral tribunal to disclose deliberation-related documents in the context of a set-aside application under Article 34 of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”) despite the dissenting arbitrator’s statement that he had “lost any and all trust in the impartiality of [his] fellow arbitrators.” The applicant relied upon Article 34(2), alleging that the majority had breached the rules of natural justice, had exceeded the terms or scope of the submission to arbitration, that the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the parties’ agreement, and that the award conflicted with Singapore public policy. For the reasons set out below, this case has relevance to Canadian international arbitration practice.

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B.C. – No unfairness for procedural irregularity, no jurisdiction to review facts – #763

In Anins v. Anins, 2022 BCCA 441 (leave to appeal refused 2023 CanLII 64855 (SCC)), the Court of Appeal for British Columbia upheld a lower court decision dismissing a petition to set aside a family arbitral award based on errors of law and procedural unfairness. The Court of Appeal agreed with the B.C. Supreme Court that the Arbitrator did not cause any unfairness in failing to make a procedural direction in writing, nor were his reasons insufficient for omitting reference to certain statutory provisions. The Court of Appeal also agreed that the appellant’s grounds for appeal on the merits raised pure questions of fact. These were not appealable under B.C.’s then-applicable domestic arbitration statute.

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Ontario – No contracting out of the Model Law – #752

In EDE Capital Inc. v Guan, 2023 ONSC 3273, Justice Vermette dismissed a set-aside application on the basis that the applicant had failed to make out a breach of procedural fairness or lack of jurisdiction. In doing so, Justice Vermette also held that the applicable legislation in this case was the Model Law, despite the fact that the parties’ arbitration agreement referred to the domestic arbitration act. 

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