Arbitration agreements

What are the formal requirements for an enforceable arbitration agreement?

The Civil Code of Quebec specifies that an arbitration agreement must be in writing to be enforceable. This requirement is satisfied if, in an exchange of communications or during judicial proceedings, the parties undertake to submit a present or future dispute to the decision of one or more arbitrators, to the exclusion of the courts.

Arbitral procedure

Does the domestic law contain substantive requirements for the procedure to be followed?

The procedure to be followed is determined in the arbitration agreement or by the arbitrators, failing which the Code of Civil Procedure provides for the basic procedure. These rules concern the nomination of arbitrators, the statement of the parties’ claims, the communication of exhibits, the notice of the date of the hearing, the summoning of witnesses, the consequences of the default of a party and the form of the award.

The principle of proportionality applies to arbitral procedures.


When and in what form must the award be delivered?

The arbitration award must be written and signed by the arbitrator or arbitrators. The reasons upon which the award is based must be stated unless there are specific stipulations to the contrary in the arbitration agreement.


On what grounds can an award be appealed to the court?

There is neither a right of appeal nor judicial review against an arbitration award. The only recourse possible is annulment. For an annulment, a party may either file a motion to the court within three months following the reception of the arbitration award or to oppose the motion for homologation of the arbitration award. The grounds for annulment are similar to the grounds for refusing homologation, which are described below.


What procedures exist for enforcement of foreign and domestic awards?

A foreign or domestic arbitration award cannot be executed unless it is homologated by a court. For the homologation of the award, courts do not inquire into the merits of the dispute. Courts must homologate an award unless:

  • one of the parties did not have the capacity to enter into the arbitration agreement;
  • the arbitration agreement is invalid under the law chosen by the parties or, failing any indication in that regard, under Quebec law;
  • the procedure for the appointment of an arbitrator or the applicable arbitration procedure was not observed;
  • the party against which the award is invoked was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings, or it was for another reason impossible for that party to present his or her case;
  • the award pertains to a dispute not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the arbitration agreement, or contains a conclusion on matters beyond the scope of the agreement, in which case only the irregular provision is not homologated if it can be dissociated from the mode of appointment of the arbitrators or the applicable arbitration procedure was not observed; or
  • in the case of a foreign award, it has not yet become binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by a competent authority of the place or pursuant to the laws of the place in which the arbitration award was made.

The court can also refuse homologation of its own motion if it finds that ‘the matter in dispute cannot be settled by arbitration in Quebec or that the award is contrary to public order’.

The homologated arbitration award is executed as a judgment of the court.