Supreme Court of Canada Agrees To Hear A “Momentous” Decision on Consent-Based Jurisdiction

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The Supreme Court of Canada today granted leave to appeal in Momentous.ca Corporation et al. v. Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball Ltd.et al. (Ont.) (Civil) (By Leave) (33999). The application for leave to appeal was granted with costs in the cause. Coram: LeBel, Deschamps, Charron JJ.

A copy of my brief case comment entitled “A “Momentous” Decision on Consent-Based Jurisdiction“, OBA Civil Litigation Section “Keeping Tabs” Volume 19, No. 2 January/Janvier 2011, is available here.

Here is the SCC Case Summary:

Private international law — Courts — Jurisdiction — Forum selection clauses — Attornment — Applicant baseball club suing Can-Am league and its principals in contract and tort — Defendants bringing motion to stay or dismiss action on ground that Ontario court had no jurisdiction — Whether Court of Appeal, having ruled that defendants did in fact attorn to jurisdiction of Ontario court, then erred in concluding that defendants could nevertheless still rely upon foreign forum selection and dispute resolution clauses — Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, rule 21.01(3)(a).

Rapidz Baseball fielded a professional baseball team in the Can-Am League during the 2008 season. The team played its home games in a stadium owned by the City of Ottawa. However, because of losses it had incurred during the season, Rapidz Baseball gave the League notice that it would be unable to operate beyond 2008. It applied under the League’s by-laws to withdraw voluntarily because of financial hardship. The League’s Board of Directors rejected Rapidz Baseball’s application. Instead, they terminated its membership and drew down a $200,000 letter of credit Rapidz Baseball had been required to post under the by-laws. Rapidz Baseball and its related companies sued the League and its principals, and the City of Ottawa, both in contract and tort.

The League and its principals brought a motion under rule 21.01(3)(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedure to stay or dismiss the action on the ground that an Ontario court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action. They relied on the choice of forum and arbitration clauses in the League’s by-laws and in the agreements signed by the plaintiffs, under which the plaintiffs agreed that all disputes with the League would be resolved in the state of North Carolina and would be subject to arbitration.

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