On February 20, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada, in Teck Cominco Metals Ltd. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters, considered the issue whether insurance coverage proceedings commenced by B.C. mining company Teck Cominco in B.C. should be stayed because prior parallel proceedings had been brought by Teck’s insurers in Washington state. As reported in Torys’ January 2008 EHS Bulletin, Teck had faced claims in Washington state arising from the discharge of waste material known as “slag” from its smelter in Trail, B.C., which allegedly accumulated in the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt in Washington State. Essentially, Teck submitted that since a foreign court had already used a similar test to assert jurisdiction, the B.C. court should not conduct a proceeding regarding the same matter. However, the Supreme Court ruled that under B.C.’s Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, whether a foreign court has asserted jurisdiction over a matter is only one of several factors to be considered in determining which jurisdiction has the closest connection to the action and the parties. Other considerations include the comparative convenience and expense, the law to be applied, the desirability of avoiding conflicting decisions, enforcement issues and the fair and efficient working of the Canadian legal system as a whole. As a result, the Court upheld the reasons of the chambers judge, and the parallel proceedings continue.
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