lundi 4 novembre 2013

Un arbitre ne perd pas son impartialité au seul motif qu'une des parties à l'arbitrage refuse de payer ses honoraires

par Karim Renno
Irving Mitchell Kalichman s.e.n.c.r.l.

Le processus d'arbitrage implique plusieurs particuliarités lorsqu'on le compare au processus judiciaire. Une de ces particuliarités en matière d'arbitrage est le fait que ce sont les parties qui paient l'arbitre. Dans Canadian Royalties Inc. c. Neartic Nickel Mines Inc. (2013 QCCS 5321), l'Honorable Louis J. Gouin devait répondre à la question de savoir si un arbitre perd son impartialité lorsqu'une des parties refuse de payer sa part de ses honoraires.

Dans cette affaire, les Intimées conteste la demande présentée par la Requérante pour faire homologuer une sentence arbitrale. Un des motifs qui est invoqué est le fait que l'arbitre n'avait plus l'impartialité requise pour rendre jugement sur le différend entre les parties une fois que les Intimées ont refusées de payer leur part de ses honoraires.
Sans surprise, le juge Gouin rejette cet argument et indique qu'en l'absence d'hostilité de la part de l'arbitre envers une partie, le seul fait que cette dernière refuse de payer les honoraires de l'arbitre n'implique pas absence d'impartialité:
[33]        The Court is of the opinion that the Arbitrator has properly addressed this specific issue of “apprehension of bias” which resulted with Ungava adopting a neutral position thereon, as expressed in its counsel’s letter of September 8, 2009: 
[…] We take no position however on whether the Panel [the Arbitrator] should nonetheless render its pending decision concerning the Motion for Costs [Costs Motion] brought before it by Canadian Royalties Inc., so as to allow the parties thereafter to take appropriate measures, or rather immediately suspend all of its work in the present file. […] 
[34]        Such a position by Ungava is tantamount to a “wait and see” position, namely, if dissatisfied with any of the Arbitrator’s upcoming decisions, then raise anew the recusation issue. 
[35]        This is unacceptable and cannot be endorsed by the Court. Otherwise the whole arbitration process’ efficiency, credibility and integrity, as intended by the parties, would be seriously jeopardized.  
[36]        The Arbitrator has respected and enforced the parties’ will and intent, in a professional and objective way. 
[37]        As mentioned by Justice Richard Wagner (now of the Supreme Court of Canada) in the Court of Appeal judgment: 
[55]        […] Furthermore, following the Supreme Court decision in Desputeaux c. Chouette, the scope of arbitration agreements must be interpreted liberally and the arbitrator's mandate should include all matter connected to the agreement or the questions in dispute. The arbitration process is understood to constitute a complete system of alternate dispute resolution. In my view, such a system would not be complete if it was unable to ascertain that its decisions be executed through comprehensive orders of specific performance.   
[56]        In the present case, both parties are sophisticated commercial corporations represented by knowledgeable attorneys. These parties specifically elected to submit any dispute to a conventional arbitration process. It is noteworthy that the parties chose arbitration for the settlement of their legal disputes even if the file also reveals that intensive litigation surrounded both the present arbitration and the preceding ones.  
[57]        It is somewhat surprising that these same parties would now object to the power of the Arbitrator to issue orders of specific performance whereas they both agreed in advance to confer to the Arbitrator the jurisdiction to determine liability and render a decision, which by nature would be the equivalent of a judgment rendered by the Superior Court.  
[58]        That being said, I am of the view that the possibility for an arbitrator to issue orders in commercial matters, such as in the present case, must be looked at according to a modern approach, one which recognizes the legislature's plain intent of ensuring that the ultimate goal is achieved, i.e. to settle commercial disputes without referring to courts of ordinary jurisdiction.  
(The Court underlines) 
[38]        This means that the Arbitrator has the necessary powers to fulfill his duties, as requested and expected by the parties and, therefore, all issues must be brought before him for adjudication.
Le texte intégral du jugement est disponible ici:

Référence neutre: [2013] ABD 440

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