Canada is a confederation of provinces. As such, each province is responsible for all matters involving property and civil rights within its jurisdiction. This includes recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, as well as supervision of international arbitrations conducted within a province. While each province has adopted both the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“New York Convention”) and has based its international arbitration act on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”), case law varies from province to province, subject only to the unifying force of a judgment from the Supreme Court of Canada. A further distinction exists in that Québec is a civil law jurisdiction with a Civil Code, while the rest of provinces have a common law regime. As a result, to speak of “jura novit arbiter in Canada” requires a review of the state of the law in each province.
Also, Canada has a very modest amount of case law dealing with international commercial arbitration and in a number of areas, we must rely on only one or two cases that are directly on point, or extrapolate from what the courts have held in similar situations involving either domestic arbitration or judicial trials, neither of which is directly comparable.