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.
Proposed amendments to the Class Proceedings Act will 1) switch BC from an “opt in” to an “opt out” jurisdiction and 2) establish a framework for the certification of multi-jurisdictional class proceedings. If enacted, the amendments will have significant consequences for both current and future class proceedings in the province.
The proposed amendments contained in Bill 21 would bring significant change to the class proceedings regime in British Columbia. While these changes would have a number of effects, the most notable of these is that British Columbia would likely be viewed as a more attractive forum for multi-jurisdictional class proceedings especially in light of the fact that it remains to be a “no cost” regime. As a result, the number and size of class proceedings in British Columbia can be expected to increase.