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Can a Court Sit Outside its Territorial Jurisdiction?

In Parsons v The Canadian Red Cross Society, 2013 ONSC 3053 (available here), Winkler CJ (of the Court of Appeal, here sitting down in the Superior Court of Justice) has held that a judge of the SCJ can sit as such outside Ontario.  No authority, it seems, requires the SCJ to sit only in Ontario.

The decision seems to me, at least on an initial reading, largely based on pragmatism.  It seems efficient to so allow and so the court does.  But I have some preliminary sense that there are some larger concerns here that are not being fully thought through.  The place where a court sits seems awfully fundamental to its existence and authority as a court.  In addition, the brushing aside of concerns about the open court principle (see paras 48-50) seems too minimal.

Part of the decision is based on Morguard and the federal nature of Canada (see para 25), so maybe the judge could not so sit outside Canada?

Recent Canadian Conflicts Scholarship

The following articles about conflict of laws in Canada were published over the past year or so:

Brandon Kain, “Solicitor-Client Privilege and the Conflict of Laws” (2012) 90 Can Bar Rev 243-99

Christina Porretta, “Assessing Tort Damages in the Conflict of Laws: Loci, Fori, Illogical” (2012) 91 Can Bar Rev 97-134

Matthew E Castel, “Anti-Foreign Suit Injunctions in Common Law Canada and Quebec Revisited” (2012) 40 Adv Q 195-212

Nicholas Pengelley, “‘We all have too much Invested to Stop’: Enforcing Chevron in Canada” (2012) 40 Adv Q 213-32

These are in addition to the several articles, mentioned in an earlier post, about the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Club Resorts.

Ontario Court Refuses to Hear Chevron/Ecuador Enforcement Action

As many of you know, in 2011 several residents of Ecuador won a judgment in the courts of that country against Chevron Corporation for some $18 billion.  In 2012 the successful plaintiffs sued Chevron Corporation and Chevron Canada Ltd. in Ontario, seeking to have the Ecuadorian judgment enforced there.  The defendants brought a motion challenging the Ontario court’s jurisdiction to hear the action.  The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has now released its decision, siding with the defendants.  The decision has not yet been posted on CanLII but is available here.  The plaintiffs’ lawyer has publicly indicated that his clients will appeal.

Key aspects of the decision have been summarized by Roger Alford on the Opinio Juris website (here).

 

Articles on the SCC’s Van Breda v Club Resorts

Things have been pretty quiet on the conflict of laws front in Canada over the past several months.  But lower courts and academics have been working to understand the new framework for taking jurisdiction set out in April 2012 by the Supreme Court of Canada in Van Breda v Club Resorts (available here).

Several useful articles have now been written about this decision:

Tanya Monestier, “(Still) a ‘Real and Substantial’ Mess: The Law of Jurisdiction in Canada” (2013) 36 Fordham International Law Journal 396

Vaughan Black, “Simplifying Court Jurisdiction in Canada” (2012) 8 Journal of Private International Law 411

Joost Blom, “New Ground Rules for Jurisdictional Disputes: The Van Breda Quartet” (2012) 53 Canadian Business Law Journal 1

Recent Canadian Conflicts Articles

The following articles about conflict of laws in Canada were published over the past year or so:

Elizabeth Edinger, “Is Duke v Andler Still Good Law in Common Law Canada?” (2011) 51 Can Bus LJ 52-75

Matthew E Castel, “The Impact of the Canadian Apology Legislation when Determining Civil Liability in Canadian Private International Law” (2012) 39 Adv Q 440-451

Nicholas Pengelley, “This Pig Won’t Fly: Death Threats as Grounds for Refusing Enforcement of an Arbitral Award” (2010) 37 Adv Q 386-402

Tanya Monestier, “Is Canada the New ‘Shangri-La’ of Global Securities Class Actions?” (2012) 32 Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business _.

New Book on Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act

Thomson Reuters Carswell has just published Statutory Jurisdiction: An Analysis of the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act by Vaughan Black, Stephen G.A. Pitel and Michael Sobkin.  More information is available here.
 
The Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act puts the important topic of the jurisdiction of Canadian provincial courts in civil and commercial cases on a clearer statutory footing.  It is in force in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.  The approach to jurisdiction adopted under the CJPTA is different in several respects from the common law approach, and so provinces that have adopted it are undergoing a period of transition.  One of the key issues for courts in applying the CJPTA is interpreting its provisions and explaining how they operate.  Statutory Jurisdiction: An Analysis of the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act examines the growing body of cases and provides a comprehensive account of how the CJPTA is being interpreted and applied by the courts. 
 
The Supreme Court of Canada has, in its April 2012 decisions on jurisdiction, indicated a willingness to develop the common law in a way that is highly mindful of the approach taken under the CJPTA.  As a result, the analysis of the CJPTA will also be of use to those in Canadian common law provinces and territories that have not enacted the CJPTA. 
 
The book may also appeal as a comparative law resource on conflict of laws, especially to those interested in how traditional rules can be affected, directly and indirectly, by statutory reform.

 

New Canadian Framework for Assumption of Jurisdiction

After 13 months the Supreme Court of Canada has finally released its decisions in four appeals on the issue of the taking and exercising of jurisdiction.  The main decision is in Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda (available here) which deals with two of the appeals.  The other two decisions are Breeden v Black (here) and Editions Ecosociete Inc v Banro Corp (here).

The result is perhaps reasonably straightforward: in all four cases the court upholds the decisions of both the motions judges and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  All courts throughout held that Ontario had jurisdiction in these cases and that Ontario was not a forum non conveniens.

The reasoning is more challenging, and it will take some time for academics, lawyers and lower courts to work out the full impact of these decisions.  The court’s reasoning differs in several respects from that of the courts below.

Supreme Court of Canada Affirms Importance of Jurisdiction Agreements

In Momentous.ca Corp v Canadian American Assn of Professional Baseball Ltd, 2012 SCC 9 (available here) the court has affirmed its willingness to give effect to exclusive jurisdiction agreements in favour of a foreign forum. 

The decision is brief (12 paragraphs) and was released only just over a month after the case was argued.  It is a unanimous decision by the seven judges. 

Academic commentary about the decision has been quite mixed.  I am not aware that anyone thinks the decision is wrong.  There is much consensus that the court reached the correct result: the defendant should have been able to rely on the jurisdiction agreement in favour of North Carolina to resist proceedings in Ontario.  But there is much disagreement about the quality of the brief reasons.

Quebec Court Refuses Jurisdiction on Forum of Necessity Basis

There has not been much to report from Canada for the past few months.  The Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisdiction decision in the Van Breda quartet of cases is still eagerly awaited.  There was some thought these decisions would be released by the end of February but it now appears that will not happen.  These cases were argued in March 2011.

Fortunately, Professor Genevieve Saumier of McGill University has written the following analysis of a recent Quebec Court of Appeal decision which might be of interest in other parts of the world.  The case is ACCI v. Anvil Mining Ltd., 2012 QCCA 117 and it is available here (though only in French, so I appreciate my colleague’s summary).  I am grateful to Professor Saumier for allowing me to post her analysis.

Cuadernos de Derecho Transnacional, Issue 2/2011

The second issue for 2011 of the Cuadernos de Derecho Transnacional, the Spanish journal published twice a year by the Área de Derecho Internacional Privado of Univ. Carlos III of Madrid under the editorship of Alfonso Luis Calvo-Caravaca (Univ. Carlos III) and Javier Carrascosa-González (Univ. of Murcia), has been recently published. It contains seventeen articles, shorter articles and casenotes, encompassing a wide range of topics in conflict of laws, conflict of jurisdictions and uniform law, all freely available for download. The journal’s website provides a very useful search function, by which contents can be browsed by issue of publication, author, title, keywords, abstract and fulltext.

Here’s the table of contents of issue 2/2011 (each contribution is accompanied by an abstract in English):

Estudios

  • José Mª Alcántara, Frazer Hunt, Svante O. Johansson, Barry Oland, Kay Pysden, Milos Pohunek, Jan Ramberg, Douglas G. Schmitt, William Tetley, C.M.Q.C, Julio Vidal, A Blue Print for a Worldwide Multimodal Regime;
  • Nuno Andrade Pisarra, Breves considerações sobre a lei aplicável ao contrato de seguro;
  • María José Cervell Hortal, Pacientes en la Unión Europea: libertad restringida y vigilada;
  • Sara Lidia Feldstein de Cárdenas, Luciane Klein Vieira, La noción de consumidor en el Mercosur;
  • Pietro Franzina, The law applicable to divorce and legal separation under Regulation (EU) no. 1259/2010 of 20 December 2010;