'The (CISG) Road Less Travelled': Grecon Dimter Inc. v. J.R. Normand Inc.


This case comment discusses two recently released Canadian decisions on the enforceability of arbitration clauses from the perspective of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods 1980(CISG). At first glance, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in GreCon Dimter Inc. v. J.R. Normand Inc. appears to be a case upholding the primacy of international commercial arbitration, choice of forum and choice of law clauses. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the Supreme Court of Canada failed to consider the application of the CISG to the overall dispute. Interestingly, the same choice of forum and choice of law clauses were considered by the United States Court of Appeals a year earlier in GreCon Dimter, Incorporated v. Horner Flooring Company, Incorporated. In either of the Canadian and American GreCon decisions, the parties' (and their respective counsel's) characterization of the legal issues, including jurisdictional arguments, ultimately guided the domestic forum court's jurisprudential analysis. Unlike GreCon v. Horner, choice of forum remained a live issue when it reached the Supreme Court of Canada in GreCon v. Normand. In both cases, the parties' choice of law remained an important, but not exclusive, factor in the domestic court's overall determination of proper forum. In Sonox Sia v. Albury Grain Sales Inc. the Quebec Superior Court also considered the validity of an arbitration clause specifying that all contractual disputes be arbitrated by the ICC in London, UK, with the CISG stipulated as the governing law. Although the reasoning in both Canadian court decisions failed to consider the CISG's provisions, international case law or academic commentaries, perhaps another opportunity awaits for Canada to contribute to the CISG's global jurisconsultorium.

(2006),44 C.B.L.J. 92.

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