Domestic and International Arbitration

Board room set up with several sets of pen and paper.

Osler has one of the most sophisticated and diverse arbitration practices in Canada. Arbitration is a highly specialized area of law, and is not simply a private court procedure. It requires technical, strategic and creative thinking. Osler has extensive experience in all stages of both domestic and international arbitration that affords our clients a clear strategic advantage.

Our expertise can be leveraged before a problem arises. We will help you anticipate business-critical challenges and craft an arbitration clause that facilitates an arbitration procedure that best achieves anticipated business objectives, should a dispute materialize. If an arbitration is required, our clients obtain the best procedure possible for the case at hand. This could mean an efficient, streamlined process to get to a decision on an expedited basis, or determining how best to execute a large-scale, high-stakes arbitration. We navigate that procedure, use arbitration-specific advocacy skills at the hearing, and advise on enforcement considerations to realize successful results. Arbitration is unique, and having specialized arbitration counsel is critical for clients who want the best chance at success.

Depth and breadth of arbitration experience

An arbitration may be governed by different procedural rules, or may be ad hoc, where the rules are designed by the parties. Osler has experience with a wide range of major international institutional arbitration rules including

  • the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
  • the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR)
  • the ICDR Canada and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) (including the AAA and ICDR Canada)
  • other rules commonly used in Canada such as ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) and the Canadian Arbitration Association (CAA) expedited rules.

We also have experience conducting arbitrations using the International Bar Association (IBA) Rules on Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration, which are widely used in the international context.

Osler also has designed numerous sets of bespoke procedural rules in ad hoc arbitrations. We understand the strategic implications of the various potential procedural steps in an arbitration, and regularly advocate to achieve arbitration procedures that best position our clients for a successful outcome. Our substantial expertise allows us to be creative, and we have experience working with opposing counsel and arbitrators to design procedures ranging from emergency expedited hearings based on minimal documentation and testimony, to complex mega-arbitrations in both Canada and foreign jurisdictions involving extensive documentary production and dozens of witnesses. International arbitration often requires virtual advocacy, and we have an extensive background in conducting procedural hearings and the taking of evidence on a virtual basis.

We have conducted arbitrations for our clients where the seat of arbitration is in various locations in Canada or many international cities including London, Tokyo, New York, Geneva, Rome, Warsaw and Hong Kong.

Our arbitration team is made up of thought leaders who are involved both domestically and internationally with key arbitral institutions, and regularly speak and write on critical developments and trends in arbitration.

Using arbitration strategically

Arbitration expertise is important not only when the dispute arises, but in determining how to direct the resolution of the dispute before it even happens. We help to identify business-critical issues you should be considering, and provide strategic advice on dispute resolution mechanisms that can have a dramatic impact on outcome. Osler has extensive experience in drafting and providing advice on mediation and arbitration clauses, including negotiating clauses that will best achieve clients’ objectives in the most appropriate forum. We regularly provide strategic advice on new and existing dispute resolution clauses and procedures so that our clients are ready in the event of a dispute, as well as to evaluate dispute resolution options that best achieve an organization’s objectives.

If a case is extremely time sensitive, or complete privacy is a business requirement, arbitration may be your only option. In many such cases, the civil justice system is not equipped to achieve resolution. We have resolved business-critical disputes by conducting an arbitration through to an arbitral award in as little as 72 hours from the inception of the dispute.

Arbitrations with a cross-border component

In addition to our extensive experience with various international institution arbitration rules, we also have a deep background in arbitrations with a cross-border component. 

We regularly work collaboratively with foreign counsel who require local representation for their clients who have arbitration clauses where the seat of arbitration is located in Canada. We understand what this partnership requires, and have extensive experience acting as local arbitration counsel for U.S. and other foreign law firms.

Osler also has significant experience with international trade and investment disputes involving the application of trade laws and regulations and the enforcement of treaties. Osler has acted on investment arbitrations under Canada’s bilateral investment promotion and protection treaties, including appearances before the London Court of Arbitration, NAFTA dispute resolution panels, the Federal Court of Canada and international and Canadian administrative agencies. Osler also has experience against a member state of the European Union under the terms of a bilateral investment treaty.


Mark A. Gelowitz

Partner, Litigation


Lauren Tomasich

Partner, Litigation


Sonia Bjorkquist

Partner, National Chair, Litigation


  • Beaverbrook Art Gallery

    Beaverbrook Art Gallery in an arbitration relating to trust law and ownership of art works valued in excess of $100 million. We acted for the Gallery in its successful defence of the arbitration, and in the subsequent arbitral appeal before a panel of distinguished retired appellate judges.

  • Toronto Terminal Railways

    Toronto Terminal Railways in an arbitration against the City of Toronto. At issue was the annual rent to be paid by the TTR to the city as well as the establishment of a new rental agreement. Also represented this client in a successful appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal regarding the arbitration tribunal’s jurisdiction to award interest on rental arrears.

  • Noel Stahl – Und Maschinbau GMBH

    Noel Stahl – Und Maschinbau GMBH in successfully staying construction lien actions in Ontario in favour of an English arbitration.

  • Venator Group Canada Inc.

    Venator Group Canada Inc. (formerly Woolworth Canada Inc.) in arbitration proceedings against Wal-Mart Canada Inc., arising from Wal-Mart’s acquisition of 122 Woolco stores.

  • Stone & Webster Canada L.P.

    Stone & Webster Canada L.P. in a successful application to appoint an arbitrator in a complex multi-million dollar construction dispute.

  • Ontario Hydro

    Ontario Hydro in a multi-million dollar arbitration relating to the termination of a uranium supply contract with Denison Mines.

  • Victoria University

    Victoria University in a complex commercial real estate arbitration relating to the fair market value of long-term commercial leases.

  • Subway Franchise Systems

    Subway Franchise Systems in upholding an arbitration clause requiring hearing in foreign jurisdiction.

  • Masterfile Corporation

    Masterfile Corporation in a successful application to compel appointment of arbitrator in international dispute.

  • Dell Computer Corporation

    Dell Computer Corporation in a class action involving arbitration and consumer dispute issues.

  • iMoney Corp.

    iMoney Corp. in an arbitration against Quebecor Media Inc. regarding a dispute arising from the purchase and sale of the assets of a Web-based financial information and services business.

  • Find More