The British Columbia Court of Appeal recently declared a notice to arbitrate a nullity because it sought to commence four separate arbitrations against three different parties under four separate arbitration agreements. Practitioners and parties entering into multiple contracts relating to the same subject matter or project should consider whether it is desirable to have all potential disputes which arise under the multiple contracts arbitrated in one proceeding.
In a decision that is inconsistent with the weight of Canadian and international jurisprudence, the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta recently ordered the consolidation of arbitration proceedings without the consent of all parties. For now, parties and practitioners should be aware that arbitrations seated in Alberta may be subject to consolidation without consent.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently interpreted when an international commercial arbitration award becomes binding on the parties for the purposes of judicial recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. It held that the determination of whether an award is binding pursuant to Articles 35 and 36 of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law rests with the court rather than the arbitral tribunal.
Third-party funding in commercial arbitration in Canada has moved increasingly into the mainstream. Its implementation is largely influenced by the treatment of third-party funding in litigation, which is why it is important for arbitration practitioners in Canada to continue to follow jurisprudential trends regarding the treatment of third-party funding. A recent third-party litigation decision from Quebec provides valuable insight for arbitrators in this regard.
British Columbia recently introduced amendments to its International Commercial Arbitration Act. The proposed amendments are intended to modernise British Columbia's international arbitration legislation and align it with accepted international standards. In so doing, the government hopes to position Vancouver as a more desirable location to host international commercial arbitration proceedings.
In a recent case that dealt with Air Canada's duty to serve passengers in both of Canada's official languages (English and French), the Federal Court held that the airline had violated a passenger's right to be served in French. The court found that Air Canada had failed to serve a passenger in French during an incident where the passenger had been involuntarily removed from a Canada-bound flight from Fort Lauderdale and when the airline later sent him a copy of its tariff in English in response to the incident.
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia recently ruled in favour of Air Canada, dismissing a passenger's appeal of the province's small claims court's interpretation of the air carrier's tariff provision which pertained to denied boarding compensation. Despite humble beginnings in the small claims court, the case provides some insight into how the Canadian courts may interpret air carrier tariffs and the evidence that claimants are expected to adduce to succeed in securing compensation in overbooking cases.
In early 2018 the Federal Court reviewed a 2015 Transport Canada decision to issue a civil aviation safety alert (CASA) against Rotor Maxx Support Ltd. CASAs are non-mandatory notifications issued by the regulator which contain important safety information and recommended actions for appropriate stakeholders. The court had previously declined to grant an injunction preventing the issuance of the CASA.
In a recent Ontario Court of Justice case, Ornge air ambulance services were charged under the Labour Code following an air ambulance crash that killed two pilots and two paramedics on a night flight. The Crown argued that the accident would not have occurred had the pilots been able to see the ground using night vision goggles, and that it had been Ornge's duty to ensure their safety by providing this technology. However, Ornge held that it had complied with all of the legal and regulatory requirements.
Due to an unexpected thunderstorm, some passengers on two Air Transat flights were stranded on the tarmac in the aircraft that they had boarded in Europe for almost five and six hours, respectively. The Canadian Transportation Agency decided to investigate, which is noteworthy as there is little or no precedent for this sort of situation being the subject of an investigation or order by the agency.
Some jurisdictions' laws make it a criminal offence for banks to disclose client information. If a bank becomes involved in Canadian proceedings, those foreign laws may conflict with the disclosure obligations imposed on litigants in Canada. This raises questions about when foreign law can provide a basis to excuse production or refuse the answering of a question in Canadian proceedings, and under what circumstances a Canadian court will compel disclosure despite potential foreign legal jeopardy.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has issued a statement and a new compliance bulletin in response to recent allegations that certain employees of banks were pressured to upsell to consumers. The bulletin states that its purpose is to reinforce FCAC expectations that federally regulated financial institutions obtain consumers' express consent for new products and services in accordance with regulatory requirements.
The government recently tabled its 2017 Budget. The financial services proposals are aimed at facilitating a more resilient financial sector, a modernised deposit insurance framework that continues to protect the deposits of Canadians and promote financial stability and increased powers to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
In April 2016 the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre (FinTRAC) levied a penalty of over C$1 million against a Canadian bank, but failed to name the bank in question. The director of FinTRAC recently released a statement expressing that the message of deterrence was effective despite the decision not to publicise the bank's name. However, he acknowledged that withholding the name of the bank may not have met public expectations in relation to openness and transparency.
Earnings within tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) and other tax-deferred plans are, in principle, supposed to grow tax free. However, some taxes still apply, including the advantage tax which applies at the rate of 100% of any 'advantage' (as defined in the Income Tax Act). This tax has become one of the Canada Revenue Agency's favourite tools to effectively expropriate what it views as improperly boosted returns within a TFSA.
The Federal Court has made a strong statement against an interpretation of the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA's) powers that would allow almost unlimited invasions of taxpayer privacy. The force with which the court rejected the self-serving interpretation advanced by the CRA should be encouraging for taxpayers. The case serves as an important reminder that the CRA cannot act outside the bounds of law and that it is the courts, and not the CRA, that interpret the law.
In these heady days of cryptocurrency investment, the market can seem like a gold rush – offering promise, but at the expense of predictability. Cryptocurrency taxation is no different. Increasing scrutiny from all types of regulator, including the tax authorities, seems inevitable for the sector. While this may diminish potential profits when compared to the early days of cryptocurrencies, it will likely add structure, transparency and legitimacy in the long term.
The Tax Court of Canada has released a landmark decision on the goods and services tax/harmonised sales tax status of certain commonplace transaction processing services – namely, Visa's payment platform offered to financial institutions. The court held that the supply of services made by Visa to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce fell outside the definition of a 'financial service' under the Excise Tax Act and therefore did not qualify as an exempt supply.
Quebec recently announced that it intends to expand its requirements for non-resident vendors to collect and remit Quebec sales tax on sales to Quebec consumers, effective as early as January 1 2019. It will be interesting to see whether the Quebec government has the authority to impose requirements on non-resident businesses that do not carry on business in the province. Another issue will be whether an assessment for failure to collect the tax can be enforced against a non-Quebec seller.
Bill C-65 – which comprises an Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code (Harassment and Violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act 2017 – recently received royal assent. Among other things, the act will amend the Canada Labour Code and expand the obligations of federal employers, particularly in relation to workplace harassment and violence.
The new provincial government has been active in reshaping provincial employment and labour laws and responsibilities. In addition to passing Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act 2018, the government has filed new regulations which will lower penalties for contravening the posting and record-keeping requirements of the Employment Standards Act. Further, the government's 2018 Fall Economic Statement outlines several initiatives and pledges which will be of interest to Ontario employers.
A recent British Columbia Supreme Court's decision is a cautionary tale for employers that terminate employment first and ask questions later. It is a reminder that failure to conduct a proper investigation into employee misconduct can undermine an employer's case for termination for cause. When considering the appropriate level of discipline, employers should consider all mitigating and aggravating factors before deciding on the appropriate discipline.
The requirement for employees to mitigate their damages following termination is generally helpful for employers during wrongful dismissal litigation, but this may not be the case when it comes to fixed-term employees. Employers that wish to use fixed-term employment agreements should ensure that they have airtight early termination provisions in their contracts and consider specifically obliging employees to mitigate.
Recent amendments to the Labour Code, brought about by Bill C-44, have been overshadowed by the dramatic changes to provincial labour and employment laws earlier in 2018. While big changes – including a significant increase in minimum wages in several provinces – have garnered the most attention, federally regulated employers must consider the code's amendments, which will affect the way in which certain complaints brought against such employers are launched and adjudicated.