Ontario – “agree to be bound” less effective than “final and binding” in excluding appeal

In Diorite Securities v. Trevali, 2019 ONSC 4225, Mr. Justice Laurence A. Pattillo held that determining whether parties intended to exclude a right of appeal required analysis of both the actual wording in their agreement and the circumstances surrounding its negotiation.  The application for leave to appeal involved an agreement entered into before Ontario’s Arbitration Act, 1991, SO 1991, c 17, a time at which no appeal was provided on even questions of law.  The 1990 agreement required Pattillo J. to consider whether the parties’ wording disclosed an intention to allow or deny appeals on a question of law and whether the award contained a “rare” extricable question of law.

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B.C. – agreement to accept summary reasons is not acceptance of insufficient reasons

Despite the parties’ agreement that the arbitrator provide only summary reasons, Mr. Justice J. Christopher Grauer in Nolin v. Ramirez, 2019 BCSC 934 determined that the arbitrator’s brief reasons were insufficient to withstand review on a standard of reasonableness. Grauer J. held that even summary reasons require more than just a conclusion. Because he lacked jurisdiction to substitute his own decision for that of the arbitrator and, in the event, could not say that the arbitrator had gotten the issues wrong, he remitted the issues to the arbitrator for reconsideration. 

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Manitoba – willingness to arbitrate must be reciprocated and not just “most efficient”

In considering interim measures sought in shareholder oppression litigation, Madam Justice Candace Grammond in Gershkovich et al. v. Sapozhnik et al., 2019 MBQB 115 declined to order the parties to undertake arbitration.  Despite Respondents’ willingness to have the shareholder dispute decided in, what Respondents believed was, “the most efficient manner”, Grammond J. noted that Respondents did not allege the court lacked jurisdiction or the parties were bound by a pre-existing agreement to arbitrate.  Grammond J. did confirm that she would hear the oppression remedy unless the parties consented to arbitration and Respondents applied to compel arbitration.

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Alberta – creature of statute, non-party can initiate arbitration where same legislation imposes its obligations and arbitration

In TransAlta Generation Partnership v. Balancing Pool, 2019 ABCA 318, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld dismissal of a challenge to arbitration initiated by an entity which was created by legislation but was not party to contracts stemming from the legislation.  The Court determined that the statutory scheme which created the non-party did not limit its right to dispute its significant financial obligations to compensate the contracting parties in certain disputes.  The Court’s handling of the implied exclusion rule lends itself to other legislative schemes created in the public interest.

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Ontario – administering institution granted leave to intervene in challenge to appellate arbitral award

In Re/Max All-Stars Realty Inc. v. Real One Realty Inc., 2019 ONSC 4956, Master Michael P. McGraw granted leave to an real estate industry association to intervene in a challenge to an award issuing from a process it administered. Master McGraw held that the association was uniquely placed to make a useful contribution to the determination of the issue regarding the history/purposes of the arbitration rules prohibiting court litigation and how interpretation of those prohibitions may affect other arbitral provisions.  Contrast this reasoning/result with HZPC Americas v. Skye View Farms, 2018 PESC 47 (CanLII) which determined that an arbitral institution would not contribute anything useful to an appeal involving excess of jurisdiction of the institution’s arbitration rules. See the Arbitration Matters note “P.E.I. – arbitral institution denied leave to intervene in jurisdiction-based challenge to arbitral award”.

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