THE ADVOCATE 559
VOL. 78 PART 4 JULY 2020
A VIEW FROM
By Barry Penner, Q.C.*
These have been strange and challenging times. Many of our fundamental
routines have been upended. Businesses have had to rethink how they do
things. It has not been easy. It seems like everything has changed. And yet,
for better or for worse, some things are still the same.
Take, for example, human nature. Despite our best intentions, disagreements
and disputes still occur. We usually do not expect serious problems
when entering into business agreements or relationships of various kinds,
but it is an ongoing fact of life.
The good news is that help in resolving disputes is still available. Despite
the reduction in court functions this past spring triggered by COVID-19, the
B.C. International Commercial Arbitration Centre (the “Centre”) continued
to provide a full range of services for the cases we administer. We made
some adjustments in response to the pandemic, and this allowed us to
remain open for business and to keep providing service without missing a
Our expert roster of panelists (more than 100 arbitrators and mediators)
have been able to make the adjustment to videoconferencing and have also
offered teleconferencing or the option to simply decide the matter based on
written submissions and supporting documentation. We have heard positive
comments about how this is working. As a result, arbitration cases continue
to be administered, new cases are being accepted for administration
and decisions (awards) are being rendered.
When regular court operations in the B.C. Supreme Court were initially
suspended on March 19, it served as a good reminder that parties with unresolved
disputes can agree to submit those disputes, including interlocutory
(chambers) matters, to arbitration under the Centre’s administration.
* Barry Penner, Q.C., is the Centre’s managing director.