For many decades, the standard of review of a commercial arbitration decision on appeal to a court has been reasonableness. There are good policy reasons for this. Making arbitral decisions more difficult to reverse on appeal increases certainty for parties who have contracted for arbitration rather than litigation as their preferred method of dispute resolution. It also enhances the viability of arbitration as an alternative forum to the courts, reducing the burden on overstrained judicial resources.
On May 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in Uber Technologies Inc., et al. v. David Heller (the Uber Class Action). At issue is an arbitration clause in the Uber driver service agreement that requires all claims be arbitrated in the Netherlands, regardless of size.
By a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court of Canada reversed a line of Ontario cases and held that s. 7(5) of province’s Arbitration Act, 1991 does not give courts discretion to decline to enforce arbitration agreements between businesses, even when those businesses are members of a class alongside consumers under the Class Proceedings Act, 1992.