Dispute Resolution Provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade


  • Luigi Di Marzo




The author discusses the new Agreement on Internal Trade, a multilateral trade agreement to which the federal government and all the provincial governments in Canada are parties. The Agreement can also extend to municipal governments and any qualifying 'persons' in certain circumstances. The object of the Agreement is to remove barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investment within Canada. This article concentrates on the dispute resolution provisions of the Agreement The article is organized into three parts: the main characteristics of these provisions, how they operate for different entities and an assessment of the provisions. The Agreement prescribes alternative dispute resolution in an effort to avoid the length and cost of traditional court settlements. It has dispute resolution provisions in two places: for each industry in its respective sector chapter and for general application in chapter 17. While the provincial and federal governments may use the dispute resolution provisions directly as needed, non-parties to the Agreement who wish to make use of the provisions may do so only if a government with which they have a "substantial connection" initiates proceedings on their behalf, or after passing a screening process. The article reviews each step of the process that must be made in order to resolve disputes under the Agreement, both for government-to-government and person-to-government disputes. The article ends with an assessment of the dispute resolution provisions and some suggested improvements to them that may have improved and streamlined the provisions, especially for person-to-government disputes.