Labour & Employment Law Blog

Arbitration Clauses and the Competence-Competence Principle

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary


In Ontario Medical Assn v Willis Canada, the Court of Appeal was charged with deciding whether to overturn a Superior Court’s decision to stay an action in order to give an arbitrator the chance to rule on its own jurisdiction.

The dispute involved three parties: the Ontario Medical Association (“OMA”) which is an umbrella body that represents the interests of the Ontario medical profession; Aviva Canada Inc. (“Aviva”) which is a personal and commercial insurance provider; and Willis Canada Inc. (“Willis”), which is an insurance broker. Willis and Aviva entered into a written agreement, whereby Willis acted as a broker for Aviva who provided insurance coverage to OMA. This agreement included an arbitration clause, to the effect that any dispute between Aviva and Willis was to be submitted to binding arbitration.

OMA commenced an action against both Willis and Aviva alleging default of payment of fees contemplated in their agreement. Aviva brought a motion to stay the proceeding pursuant to section 7 of the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O., to have the matter dealt with through binding arbitration. The motion Judge granted the stay, reasoning that—based on the competence-competence principle—an arbitrator has the prerogative of determining their own jurisdiction. The OMA appealed the Superior Court’s ruling in the motion to stay and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the basis that the Superior Court did not err in its reasoning and application of the competence-competence principle.


Although this case in particular did not involve employment issues, it is nonetheless relevant because arbitration clauses are a staple in the world of employment law. Depending on your particular circumstances, arbitration could be to one’s benefit.

Arbitration is typically preferred by employers because it keeps disputes out of the public sphere and avoids attracting attention in disputes that may shed a negative light on an employer. Arbitrations are usually binding and are often difficult to appeal.

Arbitrations are supposed to be more accessible and cheaper for employees or smaller, independent parties. However, parties usually decide to retain legal counsel, especially when the dispute involves complicated proceedings with high financial stakes. As a result, arbitrations tend to be more costly for both parties involved as they typically involve higher administrative fees, which can lead to a costly proceeding for everyone involved.

When negotiating any kind of contract, it is important to bring one’s mind to the issue of what occurs if a dispute arises. Many people shy away from this kind of thinking because they feel it will taint the negotiation process, but it is always better to cover all of your bases. A well-placed arbitration clause can go a long way in protecting one’s interests if an issue arises, or vice versa. That is why it is always important to closely consider one’s circumstances and whether they favour dispute settlement through arbitration or through the courts.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.