Canada: Canada a Major Player in 2006 for International Arbitration

Last Updated: February 15 2006
Article by Barry Leon

Canada has garnered increasing attention in recent years in the world of international arbitration. In 2006, we should see that attention expand, strengthening the platform for significant growth. Two major international conferences in mid-2006 will highlight the arbitration world’s focus on Canada: the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) will hold its 17th Congress May 31–June 3 in Montreal, and the International Law Association’s 72nd Biennial Conference, featuring numerous international arbitration sessions, will take place June 4–8 in Toronto.

Added to this unprecedented international arbitration programming in Canada will be a London Court of International Commercial Arbitration (LCIA) Symposium on May 31 in Montreal, and an event of the Young Arbitration Practitioners (YAP), comprising young arbitration practitioners from around the world, in Montreal on June 3 following the ICCA Congress.

The ICCA Congress and ILA Conference are receiving broad support from leading Canadian and international law firms, corporations, foundations, government and arbitral institutions. Members of Canada’s international arbitration community are cooperating to host leading arbitration practitioners from around the world. In doing so, they will have the opportunity to reinforce to this important international constituency at least three features of Canada’s presence in international arbitration:

  • the impressive body of arbitrators that Canada has available for international arbitrations;
  • Canada’s talented arbitration counsel with experience and advocacy skills well suited to international arbitration; and
  • the many benefits that Canada offers as a place for international arbitration.

Importance of International Arbitration to Canadian Businesses

Canada’s economy has become more international with Canadian businesses undertaking projects and transactions around the world. These businesses have adopted international arbitration to resolve disputes, recognizing that in most international situations, arbitration is preferable to courts for both the resolution of disputes and the enforcement of decisions. This has fuelled interest in international arbitration.

Canadian businesses, and the internal and external lawyers advising them, have become conscious of the importance of resolving disputes in timely and cost-effective ways. Corporate counsel in international business are particularly aware of the benefits of utilizing the process flexibility available in arbitration.

In these ways, the growth of arbitration in Canada has been market driven. It also has been driven by those who are raising the profile of international arbitration and its advantages, and by an increasing number of Canadians available as arbitrators and counsel.

ICCA 2006 Congress

The ICCA Congress is titled "International Arbitration 2006: Back to Basics?" and will afford Canadians a special opportunity to hear global leaders in arbitration right here in Canada.

The Congress will cover the arbitration agreement, jurisdiction to determine jurisdiction, document production, fact testimony, evidentiary privileges, provisional measures, applicable law, expert evidence topics, non-signatories, treaties, oral argument, and commercial arbitration and transnational public policy.

ILA 2006 Conference

ILA 2006 will include arbitration sessions over two and a half days. The ILA Committee on International Commercial Arbitration will present its work on lis pendens and on res judicata in international commercial arbitration and submit its recommendations for approval. The session will include presentations by leading specialists on these topics.

In addition, complementary programs will consider the implications of, and responses to, the new diversity (more women, persons of colour, younger arbitrators and people from all parts of the world) in international arbitration, emerging issues in the enforcement of international arbitration awards, issues in arbitrating international intellectual property disputes, and significant developments arising from the expanding body of bilateral investment treaty jurisprudence, with a focus on jurisdictional issues.

Convergence of International Arbitration Developments in Canada

Canada’s hosting of the international arbitral community is timely. Several developments have been converging to heighten the interest in and profile of international arbitration in Canada.

Canadian Bar Association Conferences

For each of the past five years, the Canadian Bar Association has held a successful international arbitration conference. The CBA has brought leading international and Canadian speakers, both from private practice and corporations, to different major cities, in conjunction with a major international arbitration organization. The conference in June in Vancouver, in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration (ICC), focused on natural resources, environment and technology disputes. These conferences have contributed to the growing interest in and profile of international arbitration.

Arbitral Institutions’ Focus on Canada

Leading arbitral institutions, such as the American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) and the ICC, are recognizing the opportunities that Canada, its business community and its arbitration practitioners offer, and are expanding their presence here. The LCIA presented a symposium in Montreal in 2004 and will present another before the ICCA Congress.

Canada’s Providers of Arbitration Services

The ADR Institute of Canada has been expanding its activities and raising awareness of arbitration across Canada. ADR Chambers, a leading provider of arbitration services, continues to offer services with a panel of experienced retired judges and senior lawyers. And recently, several prominent lawyers have moved into their own arbitrator practices, providing more options for those appointing Canadians as arbitrators.

Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners

An important development for the future of international arbitration in Canada was the formation of the Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners (YCAP) in 2004. It promotes international arbitration among lawyers and other professionals aged 40 or younger, or new to international arbitration, and provides them with professional development and networking opportunities. YCAP already includes some 65 members in Canada and elsewhere (particularly New York, Geneva, Paris and London).

Arbitration Roundtable of Toronto

The Arbitration Roundtable of Toronto (of which the author is a member) was formed 2004 by commercial litigators from major Toronto law firms and academics experienced in commercial arbitration and interested in promoting the understanding and use of commercial arbitration, domestically and internationally, and our advantages as a place of arbitration, with many experienced international arbitrators and counsel.

The year 2006 will truly be Canada’s year on the world stage in international arbitration.

Barry Leon practises business litigation and dispute resolution, including international and domestic arbitration, in the Toronto office of Torys LLP.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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