Québec – Annulment – No review of the merits and no reason to appeal – #658

Balabanyan v. Paradis, 2022 QCCA 877 is, hopefully, the last stage of this arbitration saga, which has come before the Court many times before. In a previous Case Note, Québec – Annulment – No review of the merits, even if award wrong #603, I reviewed how the Court dismissed each and every reason the Appellant raised against the arbitral award made against him. In her decision, Québec Superior Court Justice Harvie reaffirmed that courts have no jurisdiction to revisit the merits of an arbitral award or the arbitrator’s reasons and assessment of the evidence when a party is seeking homologation or annulment of an arbitral award. She also confirmed the strict scope of analysis of homologation/annulment grounds according to sections 645 and 646 CCP. In an ultimate attempt to annul the award made against him, the Appellant sought leave to appeal Justice Harvie’s decision. Firstly, the Court of Appeal took notice of Justice Harvie’s assessment that the Appellant acted in bad faith in the conduct of his proceedings: by seeking to “wear the opponent out of steam by a maze of procedures and ill-founded arguments”. This increased Appellant’s burden significantly and even more considering the fact that the Appellant’s application was out of time. The Court of Appeal dismissed the leave application because the Plaintiff did not demonstrate any reason to justify his demand.

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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/set aside not designed to “save the parties from themselves” – #631

In Singh v Modgill, 2022 ABQB 369, Justice Feasby denied the Applicants’ application to set aside and for permission to appeal an arbitral award pursuant to sections 44(2) and 45 of the Alberta Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43. On the eve of trial and after 15 years of litigation, the parties submitted their dispute to a mediation-arbitration process. The process was set out in a written agreement and provided that there would be no oral hearing and that the arbitrator was required to deliver an award within 5 days. Justice Feasby described this process as “quick and dirty”; the parties “designed a process that prioritized expediency”. The principle of party autonomy allowed the parties to choose a process that was a “departure from the norms of natural justice” and the Applicants could not now complain. He expressed the view that “the arbitrator was stuck with the process designed by the parties” and that now that the Applicants had received an unfavourable decision from the arbitrator, they had “buyer’s remorse”. An appeal or set aside application was not designed to “save the parties from themselves.

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Ontario: Award set aside for “trickery and injustice” – #624

In Campbell v. Toronto Standard Condominium Corp. No. 2600, 2022 ONSC 2805, Justice Perell of the Ontario Super Court of Justice set aside an arbitral award for “constructive fraud” pursuant to s. 46(1), para. 9 of the Ontario Arbitration Act, 1991. The arbitral award ordered the Campbells, who were condominium owners (the “Owners”), to pay $30,641.72 to the Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2600 (the “Condo Corp.”), which represented the costs of their arbitration. The matter began as a dispute regarding the Owners’ alleged non-compliance with the rules of the Condo Corp, including noise complaints and short-term rentals. However, the Owners were led to believe that the arbitration would be limited to the reasonableness of Condo Corp.’s legal costs in enforcing compliance up to and including the arbitration. Justice Perell held that the Owners were “tricked” intothe arbitration because it was actually an arbitration on the non-compliance issues.While Justice Perell found that the Condo Corp. was not deceitful, he found that “[2] it misled, outmanoeuvred, and outsmarted the [Owners]” such that “[t]he court should not countenance the trickery and the injustice.” As a result, the arbitral award was set aside.

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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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