Canada's best commercial arbitration lawyers in 2021

These are Canada's best commercial arbitration lawyers based on Lexpert’s latest peer review
Canada's best commercial arbitration lawyers in 2021

These are Canada’s best commercial arbitration lawyers based on the results of Lexpert’s extensive yearly peer review. Find out who else made the full list of the country’s most recommended lawyers and law firms in the field in our practice area rankings.

In our survey, commercial arbitration involves advising and advocating with respect to contractual provisions for arbitration and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), advising as to appropriate arbitration rules and procedures and conducting arbitration either ad hoc or under the rules of key arbitration institutions. As an alternative to litigation, commercial arbitration cuts across almost every area of law and business activity, including banking, intellectual property, insurance, engineering, construction and infrastructure projects, agreements for joint development of natural resources and financial and capital markets.

Most frequently recommended commercial arbitration lawyers

Pierre Bienvenu

Law firm: Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Year called to the bar: 1983

City: Montréal

Pierre Bienvenu is a senior partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and the global co-head of international arbitration at Norton Rose Fulbright. He has more than 30 years of experience in international arbitration, corporate and commercial litigation and constitutional law. Bienvenu has acted as counsel and served as arbitrator in numerous international arbitrations involving disputes in telecommunications, aeronautics, joint ventures, construction, mergers and acquisitions and foreign investment. He has also appeared before the courts of Québec, the Federal Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada and participated in numerous challenges to the constitutional validity of provincial and federal legislation. His SCC experience includes representing government bodies, institutions and individuals in a range of constitutional and commercial law disputes, including the attorney-general of Canada in the landmark Reference re Secession of Québec. Bienvenu also represents parties in court proceedings to enforce or set aside arbitral awards. He is a former co-chair of the Indigenous Bar Association’s Arbitration Committee and vice-president of the London Court of International Arbitration. Bienvenu currently serves as alternate member of the International Criminal Court. He is also a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is fluent in English and French.

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Ian Binnie

Law firm: Lenczner Slaght

Year called to the bar: 1967 (ON); 1966 (England & Wales); 1985 (YT)

City: Toronto

Ian Binnie is a counsel at Lenczner Slaght. He has served as a justice at the Supreme Court of Canada for nearly 14 years. Binnie has authored more than 170 opinions on landmark cases involving issues of patent interpretation and validity, protection of trademarks, media law, commercial disputes, punitive damages, expert evidence and many aspects of constitutional, criminal and administrative law. He draws not only on his judicial insights, but also his wealth of courtroom experience acquired over 30 years to become one of Canada’s top litigators. Since returning to private practice, Binnie is regularly consulted by governments and private parties on a range of private and public law issues and carries on an active practice as a domestic and international arbitrator.

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Robert J.C. Deane

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)

Year called to the bar: 2000

City: Vancouver

Robert J.C. Deane is a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and the national leader of the firm’s arbitration group. He is recognized as a leading counsel in commercial litigation, international and domestic commercial arbitration, privacy and intellectual property litigation. As litigation counsel, Deane has litigated complex cases throughout Canada and at all levels of court, including contractual disputes, appeals, intellectual property disputes, consumer class actions, sponsorship and advertising disputes, shareholder disputes, securities regulation, information and privacy law and administrative law. He has also appeared in significant arbitration proceedings in North America, Asia and Europe in a wide array of industry sectors, including manufacturing, technology, distribution, pharmaceuticals, energy, mining, and infrastructure. After graduating from the University of Victoria as the Law Society of British Columbia Gold Medallist in 1998, Deane served as a law clerk to Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Stephen L. Drymer

Law firm: Woods LLP

Year called to the bar: 1991

City: Montréal

Stephen L. Drymer is a partner at Woods LLP, where he also heads the international arbitration group. His practice is focused on domestic and international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. Drymer acts as counsel, arbitrator and mediator in domestic and international commercial and investment disputes. He advises parties on a broad range of issues associated with the design, negotiation, drafting and implementation of dispute resolution agreements and strategies. Educated and trained in both common and civil law, Drymer has acted in disputes in a wide array of industries, involving the laws of many jurisdictions, in both institutional and ad hoc proceedings. He is also active as counsel and arbitrator in the resolution of sport-related disputes in Canada and internationally. Drymer is a member of various institutional rosters of arbitrators and mediators.

Martin J. Valasek

Law firm: Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Year called to the bar: 2000 (ON); 2000 (New York); 2005 (QC)

City: Montréal

Martin J. Valasek is a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP.  He practises in the area of international arbitration, with extensive experience in both investor-state and commercial contract disputes. Valasek regularly acts as counsel and arbitrator. His experience covers a wide range of legal systems and industries, including aerospace, construction, mining, energy, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. Valasek has consistently provided winning guidance to clients, in both transactions and disputes, under the leading rules, including the ICC, LCIA, ICSID and UNCITRAL Rules and other institutional and ad hoc regimes. He has extensive experience representing clients in investment disputes under BITs, multilateral investment treaties, including NAFTA, and other instruments. Valasek clerked for Justice Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada. He is fluent in English, French and Czech and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

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James A. Woods

Law firm: Woods LLP

Year called to the bar: 1976 (QC); 1979 (ON); 2006 (AB ); 2007 (England & Wales); 2006 (BC); 2013 (Paris)

City: Montréal

James A. Woods is a senior partner at Woods LLP. He specializes in litigation and arbitration and pleads at all levels of federal and provincial courts in Ontario and Québec, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Woods is an expert in the fields of bet-the-company litigation, class action litigation, corporate and commercial litigation, director and officer liability, legal malpractice law and securities law. He is member of the Faculty of Law and lecturer in civil litigation at McGill University. Woods is also a fellow on several legal professional organizations, including the American College of Trial Lawyers, Litigation Counsel of America, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, and CIA (London). He is also a member of the panel of arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association, Canadian Bar Association, Québec Bar Association, Law Society Ontario, Law Society of British Columbia, Law Society of Alberta, Law Society of England and Wales, American Bar Association, International Bar Association, London Court of International Arbitration, American Association for Justice and Canadian Commercial Arbitration Centre. Woods was discerned Advocatus Emeritus by Québec Bar in 2013. He has acted as attorney or arbitrator either as president or member of arbitration tribunal in commercial and international arbitrations, either ad hoc or ICC.

Consistently recommended commercial arbitration lawyers

Sheila R. Block

Law firm: Torys LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1974

City: Toronto

Sheila R. Block is a partner and the chair of the litigation and dispute resolution practice at Torys LLP. She is a senior trial and appellate counsel with a broad civil litigation practice, which includes corporate, commercial and securities litigation, intellectual protection, defamation and administrative law. Block has appeared as counsel on a wide range of high-profile cases before all levels of court in Canada and in international arbitrations and other tribunals. She has also spoken and written extensively on advocacy and civil litigation and has taught advocacy in Canada, the US, England, Scotland, New Zealand and El Salvador.

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Craig R. Chiasson

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)

Year called to the bar: 2002

City: Vancouver

Craig R. Chiasson is a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s international arbitration group in Vancouver. He has extensive experience in domestic and international arbitration, focusing on commercial and investment arbitration, including as counsel and arbitrator. Chiasson’s arbitration experience includes cases seated around the world and governed by the substantive laws of many jurisdictions. He also has a vast array of industry experience.

Pierre J. Dalphond serves as senior counsel at Stikeman Elliott LLP’s litigation and dispute resolution group. He is a chartered arbitrator, accredited mediator, former guest professor at the Faculty of Law of the Université de Montréal and former senior judge of the Québec Court of Appeal. His practice focuses on commercial arbitration and mediation and providing strategic advice in every field of law. Dalphond conducts internal investigations, provides neutral evaluations and acts as expert on Québec Law in foreign proceedings.

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Duncan W. Glaholt

Law firm: Glaholt Bowles LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1979

City: Toronto

Duncan W. Glaholt is partner at Glaholt Bowles LLP, a construction law firm that he founded. He is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in construction law. Glaholt is a fellow of the American and Canadian Colleges of Construction Lawyers and International Academy of Construction Lawyers and a distinguished fellow of the International Academy of Mediators. He is an author and co-author of several reference books on construction law and alternative dispute resolution. Glaholt is an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. He is also a chartered arbitrator and has mediated and arbitrated a wide range of complex, multiparty construction industry and infrastructure work, including processing plants, refineries, capture plants, mining, energy, infrastructure and transportation projects.

Peter Griffin

Law firm: Lenczner Slaght

Year called to the bar: 1980

City: Toronto

Peter Griffin is a founding partner at Lenczner Slaght. He boasts extensive experience in complex cross-border litigation, especially in relation to class proceedings and insolvency and restructuring. Griffin regularly advises the boards of national and multinational companies. He also represents clients in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution proceedings and acts as an arbitrator in commercial disputes. Griffin is a past president of The Advocates’ Society. He is also a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and past chair of its Ontario Province Committee. He is constantly sought out as an expert speaker on advocacy, shareholder disputes, class actions, professional liability and insolvency and restructuring.

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Frank Iacobucci

Law firm: Torys LLP

Year called to the bar: 1970

City: Toronto

Frank Iacobucci joined Torys LLP as counsel in September 2004 after retiring as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He now serves as senior counsel in the firm. Iacobucci was chief justice of the Federal Court and deputy attorney-general for Canada prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court. He also began serving as interim president of the University of Toronto in September 2004 and assumed a full-time senior advisory role at Torys in July 2005. Iacobucci advises government and businesses on important legal and policy matters. He provides guidance, advice and support to the firm’s clients and members. Iacobucci has authored numerous publications and recipient of many awards and honours in Canada, the US, the UK and Italy.

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Joseph C. McArthur

Law firm: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Year called to the bar: 1995

City: Vancouver

Joseph C. McArthur is a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s Vancouver office, where he practises commercial litigation and arbitration. McArthur acts as litigation and arbitration counsel for clients in a range of industries, including mining, infrastructure, utilities, financial services and technology. He is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer and has argued before all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada. McArthur regularly advises on domestic and international arbitrations as counsel and regularly sits as arbitrator. He is a member of the ICC Canadian Arbitration Committee, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Neutral Panel, American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) Panel of Arbitrators and the Domestic and International Arbitration Panels of the Vancouver International Commercial Arbitration Centre (VanIAC). McArthur is a chartered arbitrator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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Joseph R. Nuss

Law firm: Woods LLP

Year called to the bar: 1959

City: Montréal

Joseph R. Nuss has been serving as a senior counsel at Woods LLP since 2009. Formerly a judge of the Québec Court of Appeal, he now acts as an independent arbitrator and mediator in matters of Canadian and international arbitration and mediation. Nuss also acts as counsel and has been retained as an expert on Québec law. He was appointed claims officer to decide unresolved disputes between creditors and the debtor company in the restructuring and reorganization of the AbitibiBowater group of companies under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the liquidation of Penson Financial Services Canada under the Canada Business Corporations Act. Nuss is a lecturer on arbitration and mediation at national and international conferences, delivered a paper entitled “Public policy invoked as a ground for contesting the enforcement of an arbitral award or for seeking its annulment” published in Dispute Resolution International. He is also one of the authors of the chapter on arbitration in the annual LegisPratique: Code de procédure civile annoté. Nuss is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and member of Canadian Bar Association, International Bar Association, London Court of International Arbitration, International Centre for Dispute Resolution panel of arbitrators and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Committee. He is fluent in English and French and speaks Italian.

Dennis R. O’Connor

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)

Year called to the Bar: 1966

City: Toronto

Dennis R. O’Connor serves as counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s Toronto office. He is also a member of Arbitration Place, Toronto. O’Connor sat on the Court of Appeal for Ontario from 1998 to 2012. He also served as the associate chief justice of Ontario from 2001 until he retired at the end of 2012. While on the bench, O’Connor wrote numerous judgments dealing with a wide variety of issues, including public, criminal, commercial, securities and insurance law. He also conducted two successful public inquiries, namely the Walkerton Inquiry in 2000 to 2002 and the Maher Arar Inquiry in 2004 to 2006. Prior to his appointment at the Court of Appeal, O’Connor was senior counsel at Borden & Elliot, a predecessor firm of BLG, for 18 years. His practice focuses on commercial and public law litigation. O’Connor is an officer of the Order of Canada and appointed to the Order of Ontario. He is also the chair of Pro Bono Canada and a member of the board of directors of the Innocence Canada Foundation. O’Connor is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1980.

Richard W. Pound

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1968 (QC); 1980 (ON)

City: Montréal

Richard W. Pound is a counsel at Stikeman Elliott LLP’s tax group. His main areas of practice include tax litigation and negotiations with tax authorities on behalf of clients, general tax advisory work and commercial and sport arbitration.

John A. Terry is a partner at Torys LLP. His civil litigation practice focuses on public, business and international trade and investment law. Terry has appeared as counsel at all levels of court in Ontario, the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada and in commercial and investment arbitrations and before a variety of administrative tribunals. He regularly provides advice to corporations and federal, provincial and municipal governments on North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization matters. He has acted for and advised major Canadian and multinational corporations in investor-state arbitrations under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. Terry has a significant practice in Aboriginal matters, with extensive experience in Aboriginal negotiations and on advising project developers and lenders on issues respecting the duty to consult with First Nations. He also regularly advises natural resource and energy companies on corporate social responsibility issues.

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David Tupper

Law firm: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Year called to the bar: 1996

City: Calgary

David Tupper is a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, where he practises commercial litigation law. His practice involves all aspects of corporate and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on securities, construction, insurance, environmental and oil and gas law. Tupper’s clients include banks, energy, construction and insurance companies, trusts and individuals. He has successfully acted in trials, appeals, domestic and international arbitrations and regulatory proceedings in matters involving oppression actions, option valuation, fiduciary duties, energy disputes, leases, unitization and ownership of pools, natural gas trading and construction matters. Tupper regularly appears before all levels of courts in Alberta and in the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal. In the securities realm, he has been involved in the hostile takeover fights, proxy battles, contested arrangements and disputes over voting classes and valuation of debentures. Tupper frequently appears before the Securities Commission of Alberta. He is also a board member of The Advocates' Society. Tupper is a frequent conference speaker in an array of areas.

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Jeffrey D. Vallis

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)

Year called to the bar: 1984

City: Calgary

Jeffrey D. Vallis is a partner and a member at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s construction, international trade and arbitration and international construction projects groups. He devotes his practice to dispute resolution in the construction, engineering, manufacturing and industrial sectors. Vallis has appeared as counsel at all levels of court in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the Supreme Court of Canada. He acts as an arbitrator, primarily in construction matters. Vallis is a fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, the American College of Construction Lawyers and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a member of the Western Canada Commercial Arbitration Society. He is also a former instructor at University of Calgary’s Law School Trial Advocacy Program. Vallis was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2004.

Robert Wisner

Law firm: McMillan LLP

Year called to the bar: 1996

City: Toronto

 

Robert Wisner is a litigation partner and co-chair at McMillan LLP’s international arbitration group. He specializes in international dispute resolution and corporate litigation. Wisner has argued numerous cases before arbitral tribunals seated in venues throughout Canada, the US, Asia and Europe. He has also appeared at all levels of court in Ontario and other Canadian jurisdictions. Many of Wisner’s cases have involved matters of international law, including disputes relating to foreign investment protection, the jurisdiction of Canadian courts and the enforcement of arbitral awards and foreign judgments. He has also handled a wide range of disputes relating to corporate governance, shareholder remedies and complex commercial contracts, including mergers and acquisitions, joint venture, shareholder, supply and services agreements. Legal directories have consistently recognized Wisner’s work in international arbitration, cross-border business litigation and disputes relating to the global mining sector. Many of his clients are involved in the mining, energy, aviation, infrastructure or telecommunications sectors. Wisner has assisted clients seeking litigation financing and leading litigation funders conducting due diligence on potential claims.