In Canada, the Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that a request for recognition and enforcement of an international commercial arbitral award under the New York Convention is subject to the same 2 year limitation period as applies to applications for enforcement of foreign judgments. This compares unfavourably with the UK, for example, where enforcement proceedings must be brought within 6 years from when the cause of action accrued.

More than three years after securing an award from a tribunal sitting in Russia in 2002, the successful claimant applied for enforcement of the award. The respondent contested enforcement on the grounds that the application was time barred under the Limitations Act of Alberta. Although that issue is not specifically dealt with in the Act, foreign judgments are regarded as simple contract debts and as such, are subject to a two-year limitation period. The court did not find that an arbitral award should be treated more favourably than foreign judgments and concluded that the two-year limitation period applied.

This judgment underscores the importance for claimants to keep enforcement in mind throughout the arbitral process. The relevant limitation period should be ascertained in anticipated jurisdictions of enforcement to ensure that such requirements do not impose an obstacle at the final stage of the proceedings.

(Yugraneft Corporation v. Rexx Management Corporation, case no: 0701-0230-AC, Court of Appeal of Alberta, Canada)