In Alberta, the International Commercial Arbitration Act (“Alberta Act”) establishes the basic legislative framework for the conduct of international commercial arbitration in this province. Enacted in 1986, it adopts the United Nations Commission on Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and also implements the New York Convention concerning the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.
The Uniform Law Commission of Canada (ULCC) has played a central role in promoting and facilitating the uniform implementation of the UNCITRAL Model Law and New York Convention across the various provincial and territorial jurisdictions of Canada. In 1986, the ULCC produced a model Uniform International Commercial Arbitration Act (“1986 Uniform Act”) and recommended its use for this purpose. Virtually every province and territory has done so. The Alberta Act is one of these statutes based on the 1986 Uniform Act.
Since adoption of the 1986 Uniform Act, changes at the international level as well as issues within Canada have created a need for reform. In 2014, the ULCC released updated uniform arbitration legislation along with a final report on the modernization of the Uniform International Commercial Arbitration Act (”2014 Uniform Act”) identifying three main areas of concern:
- In 2006, UNCITRAL introduced amendments to the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration that Canada has yet to adopt, making our country less competitive in the international commercial arbitration sphere.
- There were some anomalies in the provincial statutes used to implement the 1986 Uniform Act. These differences were never corrected and have undermined uniformity of international commercial arbitration practice across Canada.
- Differences in case law and arbitration practice across provinces have led to practical difficulties that should be addressed by uniform legislation.
Modernization and reform of the Alberta Act has the potential to make the system easier to navigate by foreign users, thereby attracting more international arbitration business to Alberta and Canada. ALRI will be reviewing the ULCC’s 2014 Uniform Act to determine if it is suitable for implementation in Alberta.