Vancouver International Arbitration Centre (VanIAC) Updates and Awards Presentation

Carol Trudell

VanIAC Managing Director Barry Penner began by thanking the attendees and his fellow directors for their commitment to the Centre and for generating increased enthusiasm about arbitration in Canada. VanIAC Director and former BC Attorney General Hon. Suzanne Anton provided an overview of the agenda and discussed some of the changes VanIAC, formerly known as BCICAC, has experienced in the past few years.

Several awards were presented. An Excellence Award was conferred on CJCA independent arbitrator (and Executive Editor Gerry Ghikas), who has drafted well over 100 arbitral awards in his 50-year career and is a founder of the Western Arbitration Society. He was recognized for his commitment to bolstering education about arbitration, particularly for young lawyers, and his success in promoting Canada as an arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. Ghikas stated that the growth of Canada's arbitral community is something the community as a whole should be proud of. His one piece of advice for aspiring arbitrators is to offer and accept opportunities because the arbitration community is an extremely reciprocal space. 

A second Excellence Award was given to Tina Cicchetti. Cicchetti is currently an independent arbitrator in Vancouver and past Chair of ICC Canada. Her colleagues heralded her for her fairness, advocacy for increased diversity in the profession (particularly for young female arbitrators), involvement in 'almost every' arbitration-related group, and expertise in domestic and international arbitration alike. Like Ghikas, Cicchetti acknowledged the reciprocal and mentorship-centric ethos of the arbitration community. She also remarked on the helpfulness of arbitration centres, which are building a culture of institutional arbitration that aids the promotion of arbitration in Canada. 

Kenneth Glasner also received an award, honoring his significant contributions to VanIAC. In the words of Hon. Suzanne Anton, he was a 'no brainer' candidate for this recognition. Glasner was instrumental in securing top talent for VanIAC's panel, and is a leading arbitrator, writer, lecturer, drafter, and a devoted community member in Vancouver’s legal and broader communities. Glasner spoke about the importance of presenting arbitration as a viable dispute resolution mechanism in the legal community, and VanIAC's crucial role in this promotion. 

Sarah McEachern provided an overview of The Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC), which is housed within VanIAC. CIIDRC is a provider of domain name dispute resolution services, the only such institution in Canada and one of only six in the world. CIIDRC is a fully online platform. Speaking to the efficacy of ADR for domain name disputes, CIIDRC resolves most disputes in under two months, helping clients maintain their brand credibility and save costs in the event of a domain name infringement. Those interested in learning more about CIIDRC can go here.

Director Laura Cundari provided updates on VanIAC's implementation of its new domestic arbitration rules, which were updated in 2020 along with the new B.C. Arbitration Act. The new B. Act includes more expansive procedural direction to parties and tribunals, which VanIAC needed to update its own rules to conform to. Overall, although VanIAC is not the default administrator of arbitrations under the new Act, case volume remains as high. Cundari pointed out several provisions that should be of particular interest to arbitrators, which VanIAC enacted to bolster access to justice and diversity in the arbitration field: VanIAC's emergency appointment rules, expedited procedure with fixed flat fees, virtual hearing procedures, and optional appeal tribunal provisions.

Director Alexandra Mitretodis provided updates on the committee working to update VanIAC's international arbitration rules, which the Centre hopes will be completed by year-end. Throughout these rules, tribunals are given a greater degree of discretion and authority to reduce client costs. A set of expedited rules and an online document management platform are also expected to be released from VanIAC. 

Hon. Suzanne Anton and Managing Director Barry Penner gave closing remarks, thanking all again for attending the event and congratulating the award winners.