Ontario – Olympic athletes cannot relitigate sports arbitration dispute as tort action

In Sokolov v. The World Anti-Doping Agency, 2020 ONSC 704, Mr. Justice Mario D. Faieta granted summary judgment on a jurisdictional issue, dismissing a tort claim made by athletes denied entry to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  Faieta J. held that the athletes sought to litigate the same factual matrix which they had unsuccessfully arbitrated before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that the “essential character” of the dispute was within the scope of the arbitration agreements.  Though he considered the arbitration agreements to be more like arbitration imposed by statute or adhesion contracts, he expressly considered the impact on international sports if he signalled a willingness of domestic courts to resolve matters otherwise reserved for more specialized tribunals.   

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Québec – parties urged to mediate/arbitrate to ‘avoid bogging down’ in ‘complex and costly judicial procedures’

In Équipements de gardien de but Michel Lefebvre inc. v. Sport Maska inc., 2020 QCCS 44, Mr. Justice Frédéric Bachand dismissed an application for a provisional injunction but, in doing so, prompted the parties to seize the opportunity, already consented to in their contract, to undertake mediation and arbitration ‘to avoid bogging themselves down in complex and costly judicial procedures’.  Bachand J. also urged the parties to engage in less formal exchanges of information which may allow them to find a faster solution to their dispute.

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Ontario – agreement to arbitrate disputes involving “construction, meaning or effect” does not cover « enforcement »

In Illumina Holdings Inc. v. Brand Alliance Inc. et al, 2020 ONSC 1053, Mr. Justice Cory A. Gilmore gave effect to an agreement to arbitrate disputes involving “construction, meaning or effect” of an agreement and refused to stay litigation based on enforcement of the agreement.  Gilmore J. held that the claims involved “a straightforward contract case” and that breach of an enforceable agreement was not the same as the meaning of that agreement.  Demonstrating the courts’ own readiness and flexibility to provide resolution of disputes, Gilmore J. then went on to determine that the disputes did not warrant a trial and issued orders on the merits of the claims made.

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Québec – rule shielding employee with Québec residence/domicile from litigating outside province applies to arbitration

In Chung v. Merchant Law Group, 2020 QCCS 398, Mr. Justice Sylvain Lussier held that a clause, removing jurisdiction from the courts of Québec for an employment dispute, had no effect because it violated a rule of public order in Québec’s Civil Code of Québec, CQLR c CCQ-1991.  Though the case dealt with a clause by which the parties submitted any issues to the exclusive jurisdiction of Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench, the rule has application to related attempts to submit similar employment relationships to arbitration.

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Alberta & Manitoba – courts take different paths to different outcomes following same S.C.C. case

In Cove Contracting Ltd v. Condominium Corporation No 012 5598 (Ravine Park), 2020 ABQB 106, Mr. Justice Grant S. Dunlop held that Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65 had not changed the standard of review for commercial arbitrations from reasonableness to correctness and denied leave to appeal.  In Buffalo Point First Nation et al. v. Cottage Owners Association, 2020 MBQB 20, Mr. Justice Chris W. Martin held that Vavilov had changed the standard and granted leave to appeal.  Dunlop J. postponed his hearing to give the parties the opportunity to argue the role of Vavilov.  Martin J. issued his decision on leave to appeal without hearing from the parties but invited them to submit argument for the merits of the appeal.

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