Arbitration Review of the Americas 2012: Commercial Arbitration and the Canadian Justice System: Recent Decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada

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Originally published in The Arbitration Review of the Americas 2012.

Commercial arbitration – both domestic and international – is an established and frequently employed dispute resolution mechanism in Canada, and one that is legislatively protected. With respect to international commercial arbitration in particular, the accepted culture and approach is consistent with the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the Model Law); that is to say, the courts take a very non-interventionist approach. There are some limits to this, though, which we will discuss.

We begin this chapter with a brief background on Canadian arbitration legislation. We then discuss Seidel v TELUS Communications Inc and Yugraneft Corp v Rexx Management Corp, the Supreme Court of Canada’s most recent decisions that analyse and explain how the Canadian justice system and private arbitration processes co-exist. TELUS deals with the relationship between consumer protection legislation, class actions and mandatory arbitration clauses, and Yugraneft with the interaction between local Canadian limitation periods and the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Canada. These decisions significantly add to the Supreme Court’s body of case law on arbitration in Canada and provide clarity to users of commercial arbitration.

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