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BINDING ARBITRATION - Right to arbitration - Private arbitrations

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 @ 9:23 AM  

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Appeal by the wife from the dismissal of her application for an order directing the parties to submit to private arbitration. The parties were married for 26 years prior to their separation in 2012. The husband commenced a family law action in 2015. The parties were shareholders of a holding company that owned commercial properties. The holding corporation had a subsidiary through which the husband operated his electrical services business. In 2018, the wife commenced a civil action due to concerns over how the husband was operating the business and channeling funds. In 2019, the parties agreed to participate in binding judicial dispute resolution to address the outstanding issues in both actions. The binding judicial dispute resolution was cancelled because of the pandemic court closure. The husband refused to participate in arbitration.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The chambers judge did not err in refusing to direct the parties to arbitration in circumstances where the parties had agreed to a binding judicial dispute resolution. Neither the Rules of Court nor the Arbitration Act provided authority for a chambers judge to order the parties participate in private arbitration, absent the consent of both parties. Specific legislative language would be required for the court to have the power to require parties to participate in an extrajudicial private process such as arbitration.

Stuve v. Stuve, [2020] A.J. No. 1417, Alberta Court of Appeal, T.W. Wakeling, S.J. Greckol and E.A. Hughes JJ.A., December 17, 2020. Digest No. TLD-February152021001