WMAA CIETAC Canada China Arbitration Law Seminar

On September 14 (Vancouver time), as part of China Arbitration Week 2021, the China-Canada Arbitration Law Seminar co-hosted by Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA) and China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), co-sponsored by the CIETAC North America Arbitration Center was held online.

The experienced legal professionals, Ms. Catherine H. Liang, JJ McIntyre, Jerry Zhang, Ms. Shelley Chapelski, Tim Meng, and Peter Swanson from the two jurisdictions, discussed some hot issues about “Choosing Vancouver As the Place of Arbitration”, “Historical context: Canada’s adoption federally and provincially of Model Law and the New York Convention”, “To Be a Model Law Country or Not to Be: an Analysis of the New Draft Arbitration Law in China “, “Arbitration Agreements and Their Enforcement by Canadian Courts & Interim Measures of Arbitration in Canada”,  “Arbitrator’s Duty of Disclosure in China” and “Enforcement of Arbitration Awards under Canadian law” respectively. The presentations were live-streamed to companies, institutions and professionals and questions from the online participants were answered directly. The lectures were of practical significance for the understanding of the state and acceptance of arbitration in the two countries.

Mr. Wang Chengjie, Deputy Director and Secretary-General of CIETAC, delivered an opening speech on behalf of the organizers, saying that the CIETAC North America arbitration Center is active to provide fair, efficient and comprehensive arbitration for parties in Canada, North America and around the world. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Dennis Pong, chairman of VMAA. He delivered the closing remark and emphasized that both of the institutions will further cooperate and jointly promote the integration and development of international arbitration.

VMAA Directors Virtual Presentation at the CMAC – 2021

The seminar was successfully hosted on July 16, 2021, at the China High-Level Dialogue on Maritime & Commercial Arbitration.

Thank you, Mr. JJ McIntyre and Mr. Peter Swanson for representing VMAA at the CMAC seminar.

Resolution 2021

Our 2021 Resolution featuring articles written by our directors can be viewed below:

2021 VMAA Annual General Meeting

VMAA hosted the 2021 AGM virtually at noon on June 29, 2021.

In the AGM, Dennis Pong, President of VMAA reported VMAA activities during the period of June, 2020 to June 2021 including the hosting of a virtual seminar and attending a virtual CIETAC Cup held in Beijing in November, 2020 as a warm up on the William C. Vis International Arbitration Moot. Mr. Pong also mentioned VMAA has published the 2021 Resolution, an VMAA magazine and is in the process of mailing to the members by the secretary.

Mr. JJ McIntyre, Vice President and treasurer reported on the financial which is in healthy condition due to less expenses and advertisement income.

Mr. John Young, Secretary of the Association reported on the membership situation and suggested that VMAA should promote more commercial expert as well as legal profession to join the membership. Membership including Arbitrating member, Individual Supporting member and Corporate Member. Mr. Young suggested that VMAA should start a membership drive starting in the 2021 fall session.

In the AGM, VMAA has nominated Ms. Lindsay Sutton of Pangea Logistic to be an Arbitrating member. VMAA also nominated two new directors to the board, they are Ms. Lindsay Sutton of Pangea Logistic and Ms. Shelley Chapelski of Norton Rose & Fulbright.

The 2021 VMAA board is as follow:


Dennis Pong                       President

JJ McIntyre                         Vice President & Treasurer

John Young                         Secretary and Membership


Alex Smith

Catherine Liang

David Read

Geoff McNeill

Lindsay Sutton

Peter Koh

Peter Swanson                  Past President

Shelley Chapelski

In addition, both Peter Wright and Daryl Raibl are Honorary Life President

CIETAC to set up Arbitration Centre in Vancouver

CIETAC establishes presence in Vancouver

On July 1, 2018 CIETAC (China International Economic Trade & Arbitration Commission) officially registered in Vancouver to set up an Arbitration Centre.

The organization held a signing ceremony co-hosted by the Vancouver Economic Commission, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Victoria, British Columbia representative Mr. Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of State for Trade Mr. Hon. George Chow, Deputy Consul General of Consulate General of the PRC in Vancouver, Mr. Kong Weiwei, Commercial Counselor of Consulate General of the PRC in Vancouver, Yu Shanjun, along with Chairman of the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association, Dennis Pong.

There were about 160 people in attendance, including representatives from the provincial government, legal experts, heads of large Chinese enterprises and commercial organizations along with industry members who had traveled from overseas.

The following day on July 2, 2018, the CIETAC delegation visited the VMAA at Bernard LLP. They met with Mr. H. Peter Swanson, Bernard LLP partner, Alex Smith, VMAA Arbitrator, Dennis Pong, President of VMAA and other legal practitioners. The groups discussed the prospect of establishing Vancouver as a prominent centre for arbitration in North America — so that it is seen as a major centre for resolving both commercial and maritime dispute in Canada and the US. Mr. Dennis Pong welcomed the establishment of CIETAC North America Arbitration Center in Vancouver and extended congratulations on the organization’s successful landing ceremony.

VMAA holds joint seminar with CMAC and signs Cooperation Agreement

VMAA and CMAC host a seminar and sign a Cooperation Agreement

The VMAA held a joint Seminar on May 14th, with delegates visiting from the Chinese Maritime Arbitration Commission. Over 30 attendees from within the maritime and insurance industries attended this comprehensive seminar:

Dr. Chen Bo presented on Maritime Arbitration in China
(Deputy Secretary-General & VP | China Maritime Arbitration Commission)

Wang Guohua presented on Revision and Improvement of Maritime Conflict Rules in the Maritime Code of China
(Dean | Shanghai Maritime University Law School)

Zhang Xubo presented on General Average in China
(Board Chair | Beijing Ren Xiang Insurance Surveyors)

Cui Qiang presented on Impact of Compulsory Laws on the Allocation of Risks in a Sale of Goods Contract
(Partner | Beijing Commerce & Finance Law Office)

Xu Huilin presented on Marine Insurance & Arbitration in China
(General Manager | Tianan Property Insurance Company)

John McIntyre | Legal Treatment of Foreign Arbitral Awards
(Partner | MW Law Offices)

Peter Swanson | Mechanics of the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
(Partner | Bernard LLP)


Following the seminar,  CMAC and VMAA held a ceremony for signing the new CMAC-VMAA Cooperation Agreement. Previously, CMAC and VMAA signed a Cooperation Agreement in May 2012, based on the shared concept of establishing fair arbitration procedures and highlighting the importance of arbitration within the global shipping industry. Both organizations have engaged in joint seminars over the past few years, allowing VMAA members and others from within the shipping industry to learn more about arbitration and economic trade in other notable centres outside of Vancouver.

The CMAC-VMAA Cooperation Agreement marks an important cornerstone for both groups, with the goal of facilitating enhanced trade and cooperation between China and Canada within the maritime industry.

Joint ICS VMAA Seminars

Report on 3rd Joint I C S / V M A A Luncheon Presentation 11th October 2017

The 3rd of a set of three joint educational luncheons was held this past Wednesday (Oct 11th) at the Bentall 5 Board room. Organized by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), Canada Branch and the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA). The previous two luncheon presentations heard papers related to Ship Arrest and Maritime Liens, Hanjin bankruptcy impact, Safe berth/Safe port Warranties and Tug/Tow Common Law and Contractual Liability issues. This past Wednesdays two speakers, John (JJ) McIntyre, Partner at MW Law Offices and Jason R. Kostyniuk, Partner at Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang, presented, respectively on the “Effect of inconsistent arbitration terms between CP’s & BL’s,” and “Clean vs. Claused Bills of Lading & Letters of Indemnity.” 

Just prior to kicking off, Mr. Karl Wang, Chartering Executive for Pacific Basin Shipping and a Director of the Canada Branch of ICS gave a brief background to the local branch.

With everyone having enjoyed delicious sandwiches and beverages, Mr. McIntyre led the charge and presented on the “Effect of inconsistent arbitration terms between CP’s & BL’s.”

He started by noting, there is a right to commence action in Canada regardless of what is contained in the contract.  It is, however, difficult to enforce and ultimately would need consent (NY Convention). The case of the “Nicholas A” was quoted.  In this case the Gencon printed form provided for London Arbitration and English law to prevail.   The fixture recap however called for Arbitration in Hong Kong. After the sole arbitrator found in favour of arbitration in London, an appeal to the U.K. High Court overturned the arbitrator and found that the agreed terms of the fixture recap prevailed (Hong Kong) over the printed ‘boiler plate’ of the Gencon charter. Questions were fielded and some ‘sparky’ conversations were enjoyed, with much participation from the 30 strong in attendance.

To follow up, Mr. Kostyniuk laid out a well presented power point on “Clean vs. Claused Bills of Lading & Letters of Indemnity.”  He gave a brief history and a recap of the purpose of letters of indemnity (LOI).

Letters of indemnity are frequently given in exchange for ‘clean’ bills of lading when ‘clean’ bills of lading are required but could otherwise not be given. Continuing on, Jason advised that issuing clean bills lading under these circumstances would be considered fraudulent and the LOI would be unenforceable.  An owner agreeing to the above would lose their P & I coverage. In other cases, Letters of indemnity can be issued to an owner in exchange for delivery of cargo at the destination when the original endorsed bill of lading is unavailable. This procedure is not condoned by the P & I Clubs but they do provide assistance by way of providing standard form letters and appropriate wording. These letters require bank guarantees which are unlimited in regards to time and value although in subsequent questions it was agreed that commercial pressures make it almost impossible to conclude a fixture which includes the issue of bank endorsed letters of indemnity when bills of lading are unavailable at the discharge port.


After 15 more minutes of thought provoking questions (and answers) the speakers were warmly thanked and presented with the copies of Quality Ashore (A history of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers). A successful event concluded along with a reminder of the ICS DRY BULK & COMMODITIES CONFERENCE, slated for Vancouver on November 16th.


The International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA), held in Copenhagen from September 25th – 29th, 2017 and hosted by the Danish Institute of Arbitration, offers maritime arbitrators and lawyers a unique opportunity to examine and discuss the most important issues currently affecting maritime law and the greater shipping industry. 

Directors JJ McIntyre, Peter Koh and Peter Swanson are in attendance representing the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (pictured above). In addition to functioning as a forum for discussion and showcasing compelling papers within the field, ICMA also provides delegates with the chance to connect socially and network with international colleagues.

VMAA Gives BCIT Student Annual Award

VMAA BCIT Award 2017

Each year for more than a decade, the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA) has recognized the hard work and effort of a single student graduating from the Nautical Sciences and Marine Engineering program, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). It’s a rigorous four year program that takes registrants from ‘students’ and turns them into sea ready ‘cadets.’ BCIT is proud to offer students hands-on experience,  as shipowners such as Fednav, CSL, B.C. Ferries, DesGagnes, Oak Maritime, Algoma Central and at least two cruise lines, happily get involved, offering internships for many cadets aboard their vessels.

VMAA Director Daryl Raibl presents the 2017 VMAA Award to BCIT Graduate, Cadet Ali Hassan

The VMAA offers an annual award to the student that stands out in their studies with particular merit in areas related to maritime law, arbitration and mediation. This year, at the Convocation Ceremony held at the Downtown BCIT Campus, proud parents crowded the room to see their young maritimers accept their certificates and awards.

This year, the VMAA Award was presented to Deck Officer Ali Hassan. Ali joined the Nautical Sciences Diploma program in September of 2013.  During the program he had the opportunity to work aboard ships with BC Ferries in his first sea phase and subsequently with Algoma Central Corporation on the Great Lakes. Prior to coming to BCIT, he attended UBC from 2006 to 2011 studying Engineering Physics.  Hassan has also volunteered for the UBC UNICEF organization where he organized fundraisers, helped in the planning of events and contributed at executive meetings.  He also was involved in the Reading Buddies Program assisting children with their reading and communication skills. Truly a hard-working, genuine young student. In his spare time, he is a fan of hockey, cricket, Formula One, chess and football.

Along with the BCIT Chair of the Board of Governors, the Associate Dean, the instructors, past Chair of the VMAA, Daryl Raibl, presented Cadet Ali Hassan his 2017 VMAA Award.  The Board wishes Ali the best of luck with his future pursuits within the maritime industry.

VMAA’s Arbitration Rules now available in Chinese

The 2016 VMAA Arbitration Rules have been translated into Chinese: 

2016 VMAA Arbitration Rules – Chinese: 规则–中文版

Sign up for the next VMAA Luncheon Series on June 8!

Don’t miss the next VMAA & ICS Luncheon Series on June 8, 2017. Please fill out the registration form to secure your spot by June 5, 2017.