Alberta – No set aside for document disclosure complaints – #633

In ENMAX Energy Corporation v. TransAlta Generation Partnership et al, 2022 ABCA 206, the Alberta Court of Appeal (Paperny, Rowbotham, and Strekaf, JJA) upheld the chambers justice’s decision to refuse to set aside an arbitral award (the “Award”) under section 45(1)(f) of the Alberta Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43 (the “Act“). It agreed that the (“Tribunal”) document disclosure rulings of the arbitral tribunal (“Tribunal”) in relation to a narrow sub-issue did not prevent the Appellants from making their case, nor did it result in manifest unfairness. Among other things, the Court of Appeal found that the Tribunal did not foreclose the possibility of further document production, but that it was the Appellants who opted not to apply for the records whose absence they now complained about. The Court also held that, when viewed in context, the Tribunal relied on other evidence to reach its conclusion and the absence of the records sought by the Appellants did not preclude them from presenting their case.

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Alberta – Appeal process under s. 44(2) of the Arbitration Act clarified – #623

In Esfahani v. Samimi, 2022 ABCA 178, the Court of Appeal for Alberta set out the procedure to be undertaken by the Court of Queen’s Bench when an arbitral award is appealed under s. 44(2) of the Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43. It states that if the arbitration agreement does not provide that the parties may appeal an award to the court on a question of law, a party may, with the permission of the court, appeal an award to the court on a question of law. The Court of Appeal held that the procedure is as follows: (a) an appeal does not exist unless permission to appeal is granted; (b) if parties do not make the required election in their arbitration agreement, permission to appeal is required and will be granted on questions of law only, subject to s 44(3) of the Arbitration Act (which provides that a party may not appeal an award to the court on a question of law that the parties expressly referred to the arbitral tribunal for decision); and (c) an application for permission to appeal must be heard and decided first, and separately, not contemporaneously with the appeal of the arbitral award.

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Ontario – Set- aside application failed; dispute covered by arbitration agreement, no objection to jurisdiction – #616

In Baffinland v Tower-EBC, 2022 ONSC 1900, Justice Pattillo dismissed both: (1) an application to set aside an award from a majority of an arbitral tribunal (the “Majority Award”) under section 46 of the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17 (the “Act”); and (2) an application for an order granting leave to appeal the Majority Award and Costs Award under section 45(1) of the Act. Justice Pattillo found there were no grounds upon which to set aside the Majority Award; there was no lack of jurisdiction or failure to be treated equally and fairly. Nor could leave to appeal be granted under section 45(1) of the Act because the arbitration agreement precluded an appeal.

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British Columbia – Court sets aside arbitrator’s decision for breach of procedural fairness – #615

In Bedwell Bay Construction v. Ball, 2022 BCSC 559, Justice Giaschi granted a judicial review application to set aside an interim decision of an arbitrator (the “Arbitrator”) of the Residential Tenancy Branch (the “RTB”) and to remit the matter back to the RTB for redetermination de novo before a different arbitrator. In doing so, the Court accepted the petitioner’s argument that the arbitrator did not act fairly when it required the petitioner to present its case first (even though it did not have the burden of proof), and denied it the right to cross-examine and to provide reply evidence and submissions. The Court held that this amounted to breaches of the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness. These findings have relevance to commercial arbitrations.

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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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Saskatchewan – Judicial review available only when arbitration agreement provides – #594

In Ministry of Highways for the Province of Saskatchewan v. West-Can Seal Coating Inc. et al, 2022 SKQB 43, Justice Currie heard, and rejected, all grounds pursued by the applicant, Ministry of Highways (the “Ministry”), to set aside a decision arising from an arbitration conducted pursuant to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (“NWPTA”), a trade agreement among the four western Canadian provinces. Justice Currie confirmed that, unless contracted for by the parties, there is no role for judicial review of an arbitration award. The options are appeal (if applicable) and set aside. Set aside applications are also limited to issues of procedural fairness, and not whether the decision is correct on its merits.

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