L’affaire Hengyun : L’impact de la COVID-19 en matière de louage commercial au Québec — WriteToLearn Notes

Le 16 juillet 2020, la Cour supérieure du Québec a rendu un jugement (Hengyun International Investment Commerce Inc. v. 9368 — 7614 Québec inc.2020 QCCS 2251) donnant, entre autres, son analyse complète sur la disponibilité du COVID-19 pandémie comme défense de force majeure en matière de louage commercial. La Cour supérieure du Québec a affirmé que la fermeture obligatoire des commerces en raison de la pandémie de COVID-19 constitue un cas de force majeure en ce cas et que le locataire n’a pas à payer les loyers dus pendant la période de fermeture obligatoire. Cette décision peut avoir un impact important sur les litiges entre les locataires et les propriétaires résultant de la fermeture forcée des commerces à venir. 

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Uber v Heller: The Reasoning by the Honorable Madam Justice Côté

Truth be told, I started using UberEats App to order food delivery after the Court of Appeal for Ontario’s decision on the Uber case (Heller v. Uber, 2019 ONCA 1). Although I like cooking very much, I have to admit that UberEats provides efficient food delivery service that allows me to save some time that I should have spent in the kitchen in order to immerse myself in my work and writing when necessary. The day when I downloaded the App to my cellphone as a consumer, I saw the Terms and Conditions that oblige me to refer a dispute to binding individual arbitration. I am conscious of the existence of the Terms and Conditions. And I disagree with it. But I still downloaded it and used this App because a) I was starving; b) I think the arbitration clause won’t apply to me, a Quebec consumer living at Montreal, who is well protected by the Consumer Protection Act, CQLR c P-40.1 (See Art. 11.1).

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Uber v Heller: The Arbitration Clause of Uber’s Services Agreement is Unenforceable and Invalid

Having determined that a court should resolve whether the arbitrator has jurisdiction over the dispute between Heller and Uber, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the Arbitration Clause of Uber’s Services Agreement is invalid. This Arbitration Clause is invalidated because it is considered unconscionable and detrimental to access to justice. Hence, this article discusses the unconscionability issue and the accessibility issue of the Arbitration Clause in Uber’s Services Agreement. 

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Uber v Heller: Only Superficial Review of the Documentary Evidence is Sufficient for the Court to Resolve the Issue of Arbitral Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court of Canada released the judgement on Uber Technologies Inc. v. Heller2020 SCC 16 on June 26, 2020. In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court found that the Court has jurisdiction on determining the issue of the arbitrator’s jurisdiction in this case and that the Arbitration Clause between Uber and Heller is invalid. This decision has raised arbitration lawyers’ concerns and discussions these days. The Canadian Journal of Commercial Arbitration and Arbitration Place has organized a Webinar entitled “Uber v. Heller: First Impression” on July 3 at 12PM to discuss on this judgement. Mr. Daniel Urbas has also published a case comment on this judgement (See Supreme Court – courts should not refer jurisdiction challenge to arbitrator if real prospect that challenge might never be resolved)

This article discusses the Supreme Court of Canada’s majority reasoning on whether the Court can decide the challenge of arbitrator’s jurisdiction on the validity of the Arbitration Clause.

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The Supreme Court of Canada (7:0) allowed the appeal and reinstated the supervising judge’s order under the CCAA

Bankruptcy and insolvency can trigger catastrophic consequences. Often, large claims of unsecured creditors are left unpaid (Para. 1 of Sun Indalex Finance v. United Steelworkers2013 SCC 6). The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”) is one of the three principal insolvency statutes in Canada. The CCAA pursues an array of overarching remedial objectives. These legislative objectives include: “providing for timely, efficient and impartial resolution of a debtor’s insolvency; preserving and maximizing the value of a debtor’s assets; ensuring fair and equitable treatment of the claims against a debtor; protecting the public interest; and, in the context of a commercial insolvency, balancing the costs and benefits of restructuring or liquidating the company.” (Para. 40 of Callidus2020 SCC 10)

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Gormac v Teal Cedar: The Application of the Legal Test Results In Different Outcomes v. The Legal Test Has Been Altered in the course of its Application

Questions of Mixed Fact and Law on Contractual Interpretation: A Preliminary Study of the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s Decision on Gormac Developments Ltd. v. Teal Cedar Products Ltd.2020 BCSC 712 – WriteToLearn Evening Notes

The contractual interpretation is an exercise involving either a question of law or a question of mixed fact and law (para. 45 of Sattva). The questions of mixed fact and law involve aspects of law (para. 45 of Teal Cedarand para. 65 of Richmont Mines). And the Canadian courts may grant leave to appeal if the aspects of law in the contractual interpretation could be extricated from the factual matrix and if the questions of law have the degree of generality or a “great precedential value” (see para. 37 of Southamand Art. 31 (2) Arbitration Act, RSBC 1996, c55). A narrow scope for extricable questions of law is defined by the Canadian courts in order to keep consistent with the key policy objectives of consensual arbitration, namely efficiency and finality.  

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Construction, COVID-19 et Force Majeure au Québec

Contexte

Le 11 mars 2020, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé a officiellement déclaré que la COVID-19 était désormais une pandémie mondiale.

Le 13 mars 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a déclaré l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois. Jusqu’à ce jour, l’état d’urgence sanitaire a été renouvelé jusqu’au 17 juin 2020.

Le 15 mars 2020, la juge en chef du Québec et le ministère de la Justice du Québec ont arrêté/ordonné de concert que les délais de prescription extinctive et de déchéance en matière civile étaient suspendus jusqu’à l’expiration de la période de la déclaration d’état d’urgence sanitaire.

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Virtual Hearings: Appreciate the Credibility of Witness at Remote Examination – WriteToLearn Notes

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated, and accelerated the transformation from in-person hearings to virtual hearings of the court proceedings. With travel bans and physical distancing policy in place, the in-person hearing is becoming the exception rather than the norm in 2020. While an increasing number of court hearings are conducted remotely in some jurisdictions, some litigants and lawyers still object to a videoconference examination because they maintain that it is more difficult to appreciate the credibility of witness, especially witness’ demeanour remotely. The opponents argue that the remote examination reduces the chemistry that may develop between the counsel and the witness and further, it reduces the solemnity of the court proceeding (para. 39 of Arconti v. Smith2020 ONSC 2782).

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Virtual/Remote Arbitration Hearings Part III Points for Attention during the Virtual Arbitration Hearings

“The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their ‘other selves’” – Napolean Hill

Q: During the hearing, can the participants turn on and off their microphones or their cameras randomly?

A: According to the arrangement of the tribunal, the participants could turn on and off their microphones in turns. For some hearings which involve more than 9 participants, the tribunal may consider to discuss with the participants to seek the agreement on turning off the non-speaking participants’ cameras in order to reduce the technical issue and to protect the tribunal’s concentration from unnecessary interruption. On the other hand, the tribunal assistant, the IT consultant and the court reporter may turn off their cameras with the consent of all parties during the hearing.

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Virtual/Remote Arbitration Hearings Part II – Pre-Hearing Preparation for the Virtual Arbitration Hearing

Q: How does the tribunal ensure that all the participants are familiar with the functions of the videoconferencing software?

A: Without a doubt, a great amount of time for preparation is required for virtual arbitral hearing.

First, the tribunal may make procedural orders, upon the agreement of the parties, on the following issues: (a) identifying which issues can be dealt with on “documents only” and which issues must be dealt with on virtual hearing; (b) issues of confidentiality for virtual hearing; (c) requirements of virtual caucus rooms for the tribunal members and each side in the case; (d) the minimum system specifications (such as document display, raise hand, mute, private chat functions etc.) and technical requirements for smooth connectivity, adequate visibility and lighting in each location; (e) the requirements of the equipment, such as computing devices, screens, webcams, headphones, microphones and internet capacity; (f) the preferred videoconferencing platform; (g) a list and the number of authorized participants and their time zones; (h) hearing procedure, especially the recording issue, the issue of witness and expert testimony (See Chandra v. CBC, 2015 ONSC 5385 and 9087-1195 Québec inc. (Développement Olicon) c. Syndicat de copropriété le Vénitien sur Rive2020 QCCS 1458); (i) the retainment of a single tribunal assistant or IT consultant to coach the participants on how to deal with the technical issues before and during the hearing; (j) the contingency measures to be implemented in case of technical failures; (k) timetable of the hearings; (l) how to make and deal with objections during the examination and cross-examination;

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