Revised Arbitration Act for province now in effect

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VICTORIA, B.C. – A new Arbitration Act for British Columbia has come into effect. The act will help to modernize the province’s domestic arbitration system and work to improve access to justice through out-of-court options.

The legislation was initially passed during the spring session and replaced the outdated arbitration law and works to reflect best practices based on a United Nations arbitration model that’s been used by other jurisdictions.

Under this new legislation, there is a clear structure for the steps which are involved in the arbitration. Arbitrators are provided broad procedural powers, and there are clear principles for the courts, such as staying litigation in favour of arbitration when parties agree to resolve disputes by arbitration. The traditional confidentiality of arbitration proceedings is now prescribed in the act, and appeals will be more straightforward and fast and, parties can directly agree to opt-out of appeals altogether.

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If parties cannot come to an agreement on an arbitrator but agree to the process, the legislation designates the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre (VanIAC) as the appointed authority, meaning that via request from one of the parties, VanIAC has the power to quickly select an arbitrator to help keep the process moving along quickly and efficiently.

“This new legislation keeps British Columbia in the vanguard of jurisdictions supporting arbitration throughout the world,” said Leslie Maerov, governing director and chair, VanIAC. “VanIAC is increasing its prominence as an integral part of the justice system to achieve a just, speedy and economical determination of disputes.”

The Arbitration Act covers domestic commercial disputes and is one of two arbitration statutes in British Columbia. The other, the International Commercial Arbitration Act, applies if one of the parties is based in a jurisdiction outside Canada.

More information on the legislation is on the Government of B.C website.

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