Arbitration of Commercial Disputes: A Primer for the Trial Lawyers Association of BC


Trial in a court of law is, of course, the most traditional process for having commercial disputes resolved by an independent decision-maker. However, the civil litigation process can be, and in most cases usually is, cumbersome, capricious, slow and very expensive.

Arbitration can be an attractive alternative for resolving many commercial disputes. When properly organized, the arbitral process offers flexibility, privacy, speed and the availability of suitably qualified experts as decision-makers.

Arbitration is available to resolve commercial disputes even if it is not expressly required by the commercial transaction giving rise to the claims and cross-claims between the parties. While the traditional litigation process is invoked almost by default, there is no reason why the disputing parties cannot agree to submit the matter to arbitration. This is particularly so where there is an ongoing business relationship between parties who would prefer to avoid antagonism created by the public and adversarial nature of traditional judicial proceedings.

This paper is not a treatise on arbitration. Rather, it is designed only as a general introduction to the topic with particular reference to the process and procedures contemplated under British Columbia’s Commercial Arbitration Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 c.55 (“the Act”).

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