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The following are the Canadian Lawyer's top 10 arbitration chambers, in alphabetical order.
Top 10 Arbitration Chambers
ADR Chambers was founded in 1995 by Brian Wheatley and Glenn MacPherson as a group of senior lawyers and retired judges who conducted mediations and arbitrations. In 2004, it merged with the Stitt Feld Handy Group, with Allan Stitt assuming the position of president. The company now has a panel of 67 neutrals across Canada who will administer thousands of arbitrations in 2013. ADR Chambers has its own set of arbitration rules, and has recently introduced a streamlined and less expensive expedited arbitration process. Its arbitrators “are among the most experienced and skilled available,” said one Bay Street lawyer.
Founded by ASAP Reporting Services’ Kimberley Stewart in April 2012, Arbitration Place is now home to 14 independent arbitrators. The six residents include international arbitrator Yves Fortier, former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie, and Coulter Osborne, once Ontario’s associate chief justice. The impressive roster puts Arbitration Place “in a class by itself,” said one voter. “They have done a lot in the past year to promote arbitration, and, more specifically, to promote Toronto as a seat for international arbitration.” On-site court reporting, simultaneous translation, and around-the-clock technical support are among the services offered at its Bay Adelaide Centre headquarters.
Bay Street Chambers
Bay Street Chambers was founded in July 2012 by J. Brian Casey and Janet Mills, senior barristers practising as arbitrators and mediators in international and domestic commercial disputes. Casey’s 37 years in practice include a stint as head of the Baker & McKenzie disputes group in Canada, while Mills practised commercial litigation for 17 years before sitting as a registrar in bankruptcy. Supported by a case manager, each member practises independently. “Very experienced . . . with a pragmatic approach,” said one voter.
British Columbia International Commercial Arbitration Centre
Founded off the back of Vancouver’s hosting of Expo ’86, the centre was initially a joint project of the federal and provincial governments. Since then, it has morphed into a non-profit society providing “competent, consistent, and fiscally responsible” alternative dispute resolution services, according to Patrick Williams, president of the board of directors. Almost half of the centre’s 114 panellists are international, but domestic arbitrations are also addressed, and 2012 was its busiest year since formation. It is also the registry for Woodlands Schools abuse claims.
Canadian Commercial Arbitration Centre
Montreal, Quebec City
This non-profit organization was formed in 1986 to act as an independent manager of private, public, and para-public alternative dispute resolution programs. It pairs up clients with more than 50 mediators and arbitrators, drawn from various professional backgrounds, ensuring, throughout the process, “that procedural acts, proceedings, and choice of arbitrators, in view of costs and time, are proportionate to the nature and purpose of the claim and its level of complexity,” according to President Michel Jeanniot.
President Paul Torrie founded Global Resolutions in 1996, and its panel has since grown to seven seasoned members, all of whom were leading senior counsel before joining. The firm offers dispute resolution services across Canada, working primarily on multi-party, multi-faceted cases in the commercial and insurance fields. It has been involved in the resolution of class action disputes involving land claims, business interruption, financial services, E. coli outbreaks, and sexual abuse. The recent addition of Gord Kirke to its panel has expanded its expertise in the areas of sports and entertainment. One Bay Streeter gave Global the nod for panel members’ “experience, knowledge, and dedication to the craft.”
International dispute resolution giant JAMS entered the Canadian market in 2012 as part of an international expansion that has taken the company to a total of 25 locations around the world. Four of JAMS’ 300 neutrals are based in Canada’s largest city, including former Federal Court of Appeal justice Edgar Sexton and former CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein. Its 7,000-square-foot facility in downtown Toronto includes more than 10 conference and break-out rooms and a business centre for clients.
Neeson Arbitration Chambers
Senior court reporter Kim Neeson founded the company in 2010 after identifying a hole in the market for neutral office spaces for former judges and litigators looking to establish themselves in the alternative dispute resolution field. Flexibility and independence for panel members are key to NAC’s success, says Neeson. Its eight members include energy and infrastructure arbitrator Gord Kaiser and former Ontario Superior Court justice Douglas Cunningham, who chaired the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry. “Seasoned, senior, calm, and focused practitioners who have earned their spurs” earned them top marks from one voter.
Vancouver Arbitration Chambers
Vancouver Arbitration Chambers was just established in October 2012. Despite its youth, a number of voters gave it top marks thanks to resident neutrals Gerald Ghikas and Murray Clemens, described by one national firm lawyer as “two of Vancouver’s best commercial arbitrators.” Currently operating out of the premises of co-founder Spencer Charest’s business Charest Reporting Services, VAC is slated to move to new digs in June this year where there will be room for up to five resident neutrals. Charest says plans are also afoot for a state-of-the-art hearing facility for domestic and international commercial arbitrations and mediations, tentatively named the Vancouver Centre for Dispute Resolution.
YorkStreet Dispute Resolution Group Inc.
When litigator Paul Iacono founded the group in 2003, he had just one other panellist, insurance arbitrator Doug Cutbush. In the last decade, 11 more have joined, including former Ontario Superior Court justice Harvey Spiegel and former Ontario attorney general Charles Harnick. As new members joined, YorkStreet has branched out from its original core focus on insurance law to encompass dispute resolution in the areas of aboriginal affairs, estates, and forensic accounting, among others. Panel member Jeffrey Musson, the president of three IT companies, handles matters that centre on Internet, software, and technology disputes.
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