THE ADVOCATE 543
VOL. 79 PART 4 JULY 2021
A VIEW FROM
By Barry Penner, Q.C.*
ARBITRATION TAKES CENTRE STAGE
For many years, alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), which includes
arbitration, has been billed as the future. It is now increasingly apparent
that the future has arrived.
With courts backlogged last year more than ever due to COVID-19, interest
in resolving disputes without resorting to traditional litigation reached a
new level. There is an obvious need to provide options outside of court.
According to statistics recently released by the B.C. Supreme Court, close
to 20 per cent of trials in the province (142 out of 775 cases actually heard)
were “bumped” for various reasons. In Vancouver, the situation was even
more dramatic, with 27.7 per cent of trials being bumped. In fact, the total
number of trials conducted in British Columbia dropped by 24 per cent
compared to 2019, likely influenced by the pandemic.
In British Columbia, there have been many efforts over the years to support
arbitration as an alternative to litigation. For example, in 1986, the B.C.
government took steps, with support from the federal government, to establish
the BC International Commercial Arbitration Centre (“BCICAC”). At the
same time, the B.C. legislature passed the Commercial Arbitration Act, which
was considered a progressive piece of legislation in its day.
Last year was another major milestone in the evolution of arbitration in
British Columbia, with a new Arbitration Act and a rebranding of the 35-
year-old BCICAC (the oldest arbitral institution in our province) to the Vancouver
International Arbitration Centre (“VanIAC” or the “Centre”). In
addition, new procedural rules and a new website were developed for
* Barry Penner, Q.C., is the managing director of the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre.