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March 22, 2021 Practice Points

Québec Court Enforces Ex Parte Award Stemming from Email Notice

Parties can confidently obtain a fair, prompt, enforceable resolution by nominating an experienced arbitrator, involving an established administering institution, and appearing before a court supportive of arbitration.

By Daniel Urbas

Justice Michel A. Pinsonnault in Centre Sheraton v. Canadian League of Gamers Inc., 2018 QCCS 1945 homologated (confirmed) a final award which issued ex parte against non-participating defendants. The case delivers on several of arbitration’s promises, including reduced formalities, shorter timelines, ability to proceed ex parte, and facility to have a final award homologated as a judgment of a court unless one of a limited number of grounds is proven to the court’s satisfaction. The apparent simplicity of the process belies the contribution of several key components which enable those promises to be met: Québec’s Code of Civil Procedure, CQLR c C-25.01 (C.C.P), an experienced arbitrator, an established administering institution and its rules, and a court supportive of arbitration as an alternative route to dispute resolution.

From service of notice of arbitration to confirmation of the award took eight months and four days. The arbitration, initiated by Le Centre Sheraton Limited Partnership (plaintiff) against Canadian League of Gamers Inc. and Mr. Gregory Spievak (defendants), was administered by the Canadian Commercial Arbitration Centre and confirmed pursuant to articles 645 and 646 C.C.P.

Justice Pinsonnault’s decision demonstrates that one party’s non-participation in the arbitral process cannot stall the process from reaching a resolution. The decision reiterates the Superior Court’s readiness to endorse and homologate validly made ex parte arbitration awards, provided steps necessary to satisfy the court have been taken.

Justice Pinsonnault’s reasons resist being condensed any further from their own economy of words:

 [1] WHEREAS on September 6, 2017 a Notice of Arbitration was filed against the Defendants by the Plaintiff to the Canadian Commercial Arbitration Centre (hereafter “CCAC”);
[2] WHEREAS the CCAC sent by email to the Defendants on September 11, 2017 a copy of the Notice of Arbitration;
[3] WHEREAS the Defendants did not respond within the prescribed time to the Notice of arbitration;
[4] WHEREAS on October 10, 2017, the Plaintiff sent to the CCAC a request to proceed Ex Parte;
[5] WHEREAS the same day, the Defendants sent an email to the CCAC, which demonstrated that they had received the arbitration proceedings;
[6] WHEREAS on October 19, 2017, an Arbitral Award was rendered by Mtre  Michel A. Jeanniot, the arbitrator appointed in connection with the dispute between the parties (the “Arbitral Award”);
[7] CONSIDERING that Plaintiff is requesting that the Arbitral Award be homologated by this Honorable Court in order to give it full effect and the enforceability of a judgment of the Court;
[8] CONSIDERING the Defendants’ failure to answer the summons and to attend the present hearing;
[9] CONSIDERING that the Application to homologate the Arbitral Award is well founded;

When homologating the award, Justice Pinsonnault attached a copy of it to his decision with a mention that it form an integral part thereof. He also ordered legal costs against defendants.

His decision applies article 645 C.C.P. which stipulates that as soon as the award is homologated, the award acquires the force and effect of a judgment of the court. The same article reinforces the limits against a court reviewing the merits of the award and Justice Pinsonnault’s brief treatment reflects both the spirit and the letter of non-interference stipulated by article 645 C.C.P.

The arbitration process leading to Justice Pinsonnault’s decision applies the provisions in article 635 C.C.P. That article provides for ex parte procedures as well as termination if a claimant fails to prosecute:

635. If a party fails to state its contentions, attend at the hearing or present evidence in support of its contentions, the arbitrator, after recording the default, may continue the arbitration. However, if the party that submitted the dispute to arbitration fails to state its contentions, the arbitration is ended unless the other party objects.

The courts are authorized to refuse to homologate an award on limited grounds, listed in article 646 C.C.P. Those few grounds include proof that “the party against which the award or measure is invoked was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings, or it was for another reason impossible for that party to present its case.”

The evidence showed that defendants received email notification of the arbitration. That qualified as adequate notice. The result shows that parties can have confidence in obtaining a fair, prompt, enforceable resolution to their dispute by nominating an experienced arbitrator, involving an established administering institution, and appearing before a court supportive of arbitration.

Daniel Urbas is an arbitrator and mediator at Urbas Arbitral in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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