In Ontario, the Arbitration Act, 1991 (the “Act”) allows parties to agree to a private dispute resolution process as part of a broader contractual relationship or to enter into an agreement regarding the manner in which a particular dispute that has arisen will be resolved. Commercial and business contracts frequently include an arbitration clause, as this process is usually faster and less expensive than resorting to the courts.

How does the Arbitration Act apply?

The Act applies to domestic disputes, which generally means that the parties involved are based in Ontario. Parties can agree to include or exclude most provisions of the Act as they deem appropriate, with a few exceptions such as clauses relating to equity and fairness, or enforcement by the courts.

Arbitration agreements do not need to be in writing, and binding commitments to arbitrate can be made orally. Once arbitration has been initiated, any related court proceedings may be stayed. Parties can choose how many arbitrators will hear the matter, and either agree to a specific panel or arbitrator, or have one appointed by the court. Whoever is chosen must be independent and impartial, and can be challenged for any apprehension of bias or lack of qualification.

Decisions and appeals

Cases are decided in accordance with the law, and decisions can include specific performance, injunctions or other equitable remedies. Appeals can be addressed in the arbitration agreement, and a distinction is drawn between appeals on questions of law, versus appeals on questions of fact or questions of fact and law combined. The Act provides that unless the agreement indicates otherwise, appeals on a question of law may be made with leave of the court. Appeals on questions of fact or questions of mixed fact and law may only be appealed where the arbitration agreement between the parties so provides. Arbitral awards can also be set aside on grounds such as unfairness, bias or fraud.

Waterloo area commercial litigators for arbitrations

At Duncan Linton LLP, our commercial litigation team regularly appear before arbitrators and panels to advocate on behalf of our clients. We know how to navigate challenging commercial disputes while protecting the financial and legal interests of our clients. We can handle disputes of any size or level of complexity. To speak with one of our lawyers, contact us online or call 519-886-3340 to make an appointment.