362 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
tion. At that time it also took a leading role in adopting new domestic legislation
(then known as the Commercial Arbitration Act) influenced by the
The new Act provides the arbitrator (or arbitral tribunal) with greater
powers, many akin to those of a public judge, plus the added opportunity of
being involved from the beginning of the process.
The Hon. Robert Armstrong, Q.C., once said: “Arbitration is very different
because in court adjudication, you never see the trial judge until the day
you finally get to court. The reverse happens in an arbitration in that the
arbitrator is there from the beginning.”3
The benefits introduced by B.C.’s new Act include:
1. The new Act has a logical, easy-to-follow structure divided into
parts that track the main steps in an arbitration and their sequencing.
Reading the new Act from start to finish will teach a reader
much about the process of arbitration in a way that the present Act
2. The new Act has a great amount of overlap with B.C.’s International
Commercial Arbitration Act4 (“ICAA”). This is important. The new
Act is heavily influenced by the UNCITRAL model arbitration law,
which has been enacted in over 100 jurisdictions around the world.
British Columbia business parties, both internationally and now
domestically, will be able to arbitrate their dispute following a
proven, accepted, well-understood legal template.
3. Party autonomy is enhanced in the new Act. There are too many
examples of this to list here. But the bottom line is that few sections
are mandatory and party autonomy can change a good majority of
the sections of the new Act.
4. The manner in which arbitral proceedings may be commenced is
now included within the legislation (s. 8), rather than in external
rules. This will be easier for parties to follow.
5. The new Act includes a comprehensive consolidation provision
explaining the circumstances in which two or more arbitral proceedings
could be consolidated with a court order (s. 9). This is the
same provision recently enacted in amendments to the ICAA.
6. The new Act allows a suspension of an applicable limitation period
if a party commences proceedings in court and that court proceeding
is then stayed in favour of arbitration, if the claim is made in
arbitral proceedings no more than 30 days after the court proceedings
are stayed (s. 12).