Posts

New Article: Conflict of Laws and Relational Feminism

Readers of this blog might be interested in Roxana Banu, “A Relational Feminist Approach to Conflict of Laws” (2017) 24 Mich. J. Gender & L. 1.  It can be accessed through SSRN at this location.

The specific context is transnational surrogacy arrangements, but much of the article goes beyond that to other areas of the field more generally.  The article engages with work by several other scholars who write about theories or philosophies of private international law.

The Abstract is below.

Worldwide Removal Order Upheld Against Google

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld, by a 7-2 decision, an injunction issued by lower courts in British Columbia requiring Google, a non-party to the litigation, to globally remove or “de-index” the websites of the defendant so that they do not appear in any search results.  This is the first such decision by Canada’s highest court.

In Google Inc. v Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 SCC 34 (available here) Equustek sued Datalink for various intellectual property violations relating to the manufacture and sale of a networking device.  Interlocutory orders were made against Datalink but it did not comply and it cut any connections it had to British Columbia (para 7).  It continued its conduct, operating from an unknown location and selling its device over the internet.  After some cooperative efforts with Google (de-indexing specific web pages but not Datalink’s entire websites) were unsuccessful to stop potential customers from finding Datalink’s device, Equustek sought an interlocutory injunction stopping Google from including any parts of Datalink websites in its search results worldwide.  Google acknowledged that it could do this relatively easily (paras 43 and 50) but it resisted the injunction.

The issue of the British Columbia court’s in personam or territorial jurisdiction over Google featured prominently in the lower court decisions, especially that of Justice Fenlon for the British Columbia Supreme Court (available here).  This is an interesting issue in its own right, considering the extent to which a corporation can be present or carry on business in a province in a solely virtual (through the internet) manner (rather than having any physical presence).  There is considerable American law on this issue, including the much-discussed decision in Zippo Manufacturing v Zippo Dot Com Inc., 952 F Supp 119 (WD Pa 1997).  In the Supreme Court of Canada, Google barely raised the question of jurisdiction, leading the court to state that it had not challenged the lower courts’ findings of in personam and territorial jurisdiction (para 37).  So more on that issue will have to wait for another case.

Law on Jurisdiction Clauses Changes in Canada

In 2011 Facebook, Inc. used the name and picture of certain Facebook.com members as part of an advertising product.  In response, a class action was started in British Columbia on behalf of roughly 1.8 million British Columbia residents whose name and picture had been used.  The claim was based on section 3(2) of the province’s Privacy Act.  In response, Facebook, Inc. sought a stay of proceedings based on an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of California contained in the contracts of use for all Facebook.com members.

Characterization of Unfunded Pension Liability Claims

In Re Walter Energy Canada Holdings, Inc, 2017 BCSC 709 (available here) the British Columbia Supreme Court had to consider the validity of a large claim (over $1 billion) filed in restructuring proceedings underway in the province under federal legislation.  The claim was for unfunded pension liabilities and was based on an American statute, the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001.  So the court had to consider whether that statute could apply to a claim in British Columbia against entities organized in Canada (mostly in British Columbia).

Starting at para. 93 the court considered whether the claim against the entities being restructured was governed by Canadian or American law (in each case the relevant law was either federal rather than provincial or state or did not vary as between provinces).  This is a choice of law question which raises the issue of the characterization of the claim.  Canadian courts do not often analyze characterization in detail, but the court did so in this case, making the decision notable.  The claimant argued that the claim was one in the law of obligations and sought to identify the proper law of the obligation.  The entities being restructured in contrast argued the claim went to a point of corporate law, namely their separate existence from other entities in an international corporate group.  The court referred to several of the main general authorities about the characterization process but considered the specific issue before it to be one of first instance.  It sided with the entities being restructured – the claim went to the issue of separation of corporate personality and status.  The American statute was imposing liability by “lifting the corporate veil” (paras. 137-38) between international corporate entities.

New International Commercial Arbitration Statute for Ontario

Ontario has enacted and brought into force the International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, SO 2017, c 2, Sched 5 (available here) to replace its previous statute on international commercial arbitration.  The central feature of the new statute is that it provides that BOTH the 1958 New York Convention and the 1985 Model Law have the force of law in Ontario.  Previously, when Ontario had given the Model Law the force of law in Ontario it had repealed its statute that had given the New York Convention the force of law in Ontario.  This made Ontario an outlier within Canada since the New York Convention has the force of law in all other provinces (as does the Model Law).

The previous statute did not address the issue of the limitation period for enforcing a foreign award.  The new statute addresses this in section 10, adopting a general 10 year period from the date of the award (subject to some exceptions).   Section 8 deals with the consolidation of arbitrations and section 11 deals with appeals from arbitral decisions on jurisdiction.

New Canadian Reference on Conflict of Laws

Halsbury’s Laws of Canada (first edition) has published a reissue (September 2016) of its volume on Conflict of Laws.  It is written by Professor Janet Walker, the author of the leading Canadian textbook in the field.  The reissue is highly detailed with over 260 pages of tables (cases, conventions, legislation), an index and a glossary.  The substantive content runs to over 600 pages including lengthy footnotes.  The reissue can be purchased as a stand-alone reference (without buying the entire Halsbury’s collection) for conflict of laws in Canada (publisher information available here).

Supreme Court of Canada Allows Courts to Sit Extraterritorially

In Endean v British Columbia, 2016 SCC 42 (available here) the Supreme Court of Canada has held that “In pan-national class action proceedings over which the superior court has subject-matter and personal jurisdiction, a judge of that court has the discretion to hold a hearing outside his or her territory in conjunction with other judges managing related class actions, provided that the judge will not have to resort to the court’s coercive powers in order to convene or conduct the hearing and the hearing is not contrary to the law of the place in which it will be held” (quotation from the court’s summary/headnote).

The qualifications on the holding are important, since some of the earlier lower court decisions had been more expansive in asserting the inherent power of the superior court to sit outside the province (for example beyond the class proceedings context).  I am concerned about any extraterritorial hearings that are not expressly authorized by specific statutory provisions, but I do appreciate the utility (from an efficiency perspective) of the court’s conclusion in the particular context of this dispute.  It remains to be seen if attempts will be made to broaden this holding to other contexts.

Conflicts Conference in Toronto

The following information is provided by the conference organizers.  Given how rare conflict of laws conferences are in Canada, I am delighted to pass this along.

The CJPTA: A Decade of Progress

In 2016, the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act marks its tenth year in force.  Adopted in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the CJPTA has clarified and advanced the law of judicial jurisdiction. This symposium will assess the progress made by the CJPTA across the range of issues addressed and critically evaluate the capacity of the CJPTA: to provide leadership for the law in other parts of Canada; to enable further development in the law; and to meet the needs of Canadians in the years ahead in a world of increasing cross-border dealings.

New Edition: Canadian Textbook on Conflict of Laws

Irwin Law has published (August 2016) the second edition of Conflict of Laws by Stephen Pitel (Western University) and Nicholas Rafferty (University of Calgary).  This treatise aims to explain and analyze the rules of the conflict of laws in force in common law Canada in a clear and concise manner.  For the second edition, the chapter on jurisdiction has been rewritten in light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda (2012) and the evolving jurisprudence under the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act.  In addition, a new chapter on matrimonial property division has been added.  All chapters have been updated to reflect new decisions, legislative changes and recent scholarship.

Supreme Court of Canada Evolves Test for Taking Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court of Canada has released its decision in Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melancon LLP v Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, 2016 SCC 30 (available here).  The decision builds on the court’s foundational decision in Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17, which altered the law on taking jurisdiction in cases not involving presence in the forum or submission to the forum.

In Club Resorts the court held that to take jurisdiction in service ex juris cases the plaintiff had to establish a presumptive connecting factor (PCF) and it identified four non-exhaustive PCFs for tort claims.  The fourth of these was that a contract connected with the dispute was made in the forum.  This was viewed as unusual: there was very little precedential support for considering such a connection sufficient to ground jurisdiction in tort cases.  Commentators expressed concern about the weakness of the connection, based as it was on the place of making a contract, and about the lack of a clear test for determining whether such a contract was sufficiently connected to the tort claim.  Both of these issues were squarely raised in Lapointe Rosenstein.