2023 Seminars

VMAA has hosted a number of seminars recently. This included a seminar by our director, Peter Swanson, in July 2023 entitled “Waybills vs. Bills of Lading: the Recent Canadian Legal View”. This seminar was largely focused on a 2022 Federal Court judgment (Arc-En-Ciel Produce Inc. v. BF Leticia (Ship), 2022 FC 843) in which the court affirmed the view that a waybill is not governed by s. 46 of the Marine Liability Act – noting that a waybill is also not subject to the Hague-Visby Rules – meaning any waybill that contains an arbitration clause (not typical) or a forum selection clause (fairly typical) will likely be enforced. Mr. Swanson noted that many common law countries have enacted legislation that subjects a waybill to the Hague-Visby Rules.

Our director, Ms. Diana Torrens, presented on “The interaction between maritime arbitration and EU law” on Thursday November 30th 2023 at 12:00pm. Again this was a very insightful presentation that provided a unique perspective on the interplay between maritime arbitration and European Union law. Ms. Torrens is uniquely placed to provide this very interesting and useful seminar, having worked with the EFTA Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg for many years.

More recently, Jenna Anne De Jong, a partner with the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright in Montreal gave a presentation on January 25, 2044 on “Navigating the procedural differences between arbitration and litigation in Court: How the rules of evidence and other practices vary with Arbitration.” This was an extremely useful seminar for everyone, but particularly our arbitrating members as it provided useful insights into evidentiary issues that can arise in the context of an arbitration. As most people will appreciate the strict evidentiary rules that may be applied in a Court do not bind arbitrators, so the manner of introducing evidence in an arbitration is typically less formalistic.

The VMAA has otherwise been active internationally. Two directors, our president Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Swanson both attended the 22nd International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (“ICMA”) held in Dubai between November 5 and 10, 2023. ICMA is always well attended by lawyers, arbitrators and others involved in the arbitration process from around the world, and Dubai was no exception. Not surprising given the location of ICMA XXII, there was a large middle eastern presence which made for extremely interesting discussions and presentations. There was also a large presence from Brasil, the last Congress having been held in Rio. Mr. McIntyre was one of the speakers presenting on the “Effect of sanctions on arbitrations and enforceability of awards in Canada”. Mr. Swanson, for his part, moderated the session on “National arbitration issues (Europe, MENA and North America)” which included speakers from Denmark, the USA, and the UAE. All sessions were well attended. ICMA XXII was a great success, having both substantive sessions and a uniquely middle Easter social program that included a very enjoyable desert experience. ICMA XXIII was awarded to Singapore and it is expected they will host an equally insightful Congress.