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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).

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  Previously, when Ontario had given the Model Law the force of law in Ontario it had repealed its statute that had given the New York Convention the force of law in Ontario.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).

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).

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.

Ontario Court Enforces American Judgments Against Iran

Under the State Immunity Act, foreign states are generally immune from being sued in Canada.  This includes being sued on a foreign judgment.  However, in 2012 Canada enacted legislation to give victims of terrorism the ability to sue a foreign state that sponsored the terrorism.  It also made it easier for foreign judgments against such a state to be enforced in Canada.

In Tracy v The Iranian Ministry of Information and Security, 2016 ONSC 3759 (released June 9, 2016; likely to be posted in the week of June 13, 2016, in CanLII) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had to consider these legislative reforms and how they applied to a series of American judgments rendered against Iran in favour of American victims of terrorist acts which Iran was found to have sponsored.  The court held that Iran was not immune from the enforcement proceedings and that accordingly the American judgments were enforceable against certain assets of Iran in Ontario.

Video From 2015 Journal of Private International Law Conference

As many will know, in September 2015 the University of Cambridge hosted the Journal of Private International Law Conference (see here).  Video of the four plenary sessions has now been uploaded to YouTube.  The videos can be accessed through these links: first plenary, second plenary, third plenary, fourth plenary.