Annual Report - Activities and Priorities of Dept. Justice International Private Law 2008



[17] The Hague Conference on Private International Law, which held its first session in 1893, has 69 Members, including Canada since 1968 and the European Community since 2007. Its objective is to work toward the progressive unification of rules of private international law. The Permanent Bureau, the Secretariat of the Conference, is responsible for administration and supporting research. Its working cycle is approximately four years, at the end of which Sessions of the Conference are convened, attended by all Members. Members also meet during the intersessional period in “Special Commissions”, which develop draft conventions to be adopted at the next Session. Further information on the Hague Conference on Private International Law can be found at:

[18] The Conference’s work programme is now reviewed each year at a meeting of the Council on General Affairs and Policy. At this year’s meeting, held in April, the Council approved a workplan which for the first time does not include the negotiation of a new international instrument. It does however include preliminary work on a range of subjects, including cross-border mediation in family matters, choice of law in international contracts, access to foreign law and the feasibility of developing a protocol to the new Maintenance Obligations Convention to address maintenance for vulnerable persons. The conclusions of the Council’s meeting are available on the Hague Conference website.

[19] Over the last year, Canada participated in the following activities of the Conference: expert and drafting group meetings, Special Commissions, the April 2008 meeting of the Council on General Affairs and Policy of the Conference and the Diplomatic Session to adopt the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and the Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations in November 2007.

[20] Canada is party to four Hague Conference Conventions in private international law: the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-judicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (1965, in force for Canada 88/05/01); the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980, in force for Canada 83/12/01); the Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (1985, in force for Canada 93/01/01); and the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1993, in force for Canada 97/04/01). Not all jurisdictions in Canada have implemented all four.


[21] The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the core legal body within the UN system in the field of international trade law, aims to further the progressive harmonisation and unification of the law of international trade. To reach this goal, the Commission uses various instruments: it has prepared 10 conventions, model laws, uniform rules and a number of legal or legislative guides. Further information on UNCITRAL, including instruments adopted by the Commission, status of ratifications and adoption of instruments, and working group reports, can be found at:

[22] UNCITRAL comprises 60 Member States representing various geographic regions and the principal economic systems and legal traditions of the world. Members are elected for a six-year term by the General Assembly. Other States and international governmental and non-governmental organizations may participate as observers in meetings of the Commission and its working groups, which operate by consensus. Canada was a member of UNCITRAL from 1989 to 1995, participated actively as an observer from 1995 to 2001, and was elected to the Commission for a term commencing in June 2001 and ending in June 2007. Canada was re-elected in 2007 until 2013.

[23] At the second part of its 40th session in December 2007, UNCITRAL finalized and adopted the Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions. At its 41st session this year, UNCITRAL adopted its tenth convention, the Convention on contracts for the international carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea, which will be submitted to the General Assembly this fall for approval and opening for signature, ratification and accession.

[24] In terms of future work, the Commission decided this year to continue the work undertaken by its Working Groups on procurement, arbitration, secured transactions in intellectual property and insolvency. In addition, it requested its Secretariat to participate, with the assistance of experts, in work being done by the World Customs Organization on the creation and operation of single windows in international trade. Canada succeeded in obtaining the agreement of the Commission that Working Group II on arbitration should take up the question of rules for transparency in investor-State arbitration immediately following completion of the revisions to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. Further information on UNCITRAL’s work programme is available on its website.

[25] Canada is party to two UN conventions relating to international commercial law: the U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958, in force for Canada 86/08/10) and the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention of 1980, in force for Canada 92/05/01). Canada has also enacted domestic legislation implementing UNCITRAL’s Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985). Legislation drawing on UNCITRAL’s Model Law on Electronic Commerce has been adopted by the federal government, the provinces and two territories.


[26] The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, known as Unidroit, was created in 1926 as an organ of the League of Nations. Since 1940 it has been an independent inter-governmental organization based in Rome. There are 61 Member States, including Canada since 1968. Unidroit’s mandate differs from that of the Hague Conference as it aims to harmonize and co-ordinate the private law of its Member States, rather than their private international law rules. Further information on Unidroit can be found at:

[27] Since its creation, Unidroit has drafted more than seventy studies, model laws and conventions on various private law subjects including sales, international leasing and factoring, transport, security interests, franchising and cultural property. Its current work program includes ongoing work on the Unidroit Principles of International Commercial Contracts, finalization of a Model Law on Leasing, additional protocols to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and further work in the area of capital markets, including finalization of the draft Convention on Intermediated Securities. Details of Unidroit’s work programme are available on its website.

[28] This year Canada designated two depositary libraries for Unidroit documents: the law library of the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia and the Nahum Gelber Library at the McGill Faculty of Law. These libraries will receive copies of Unidroit materials and make them available to the public.

[29] Canada is party to only one of the ten Unidroit conventions, the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will (1973) (in force for Canada since 78/09/02). Canada has also signed the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its related Aircraft Protocol. Not all jurisdictions have implemented these instruments.


[30] The World Bank’s role in the field of international private law stems in part from the creation of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) under the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (1965). Canada signed this Convention in December 2006. To facilitate ratification, the ULCC has adopted a uniform act to implement the Convention. Further information on the World Bank and the ICSID Convention can be found at:


[31] The Organization of American States (OAS), with 35 member States, provides a forum for political, economic, social and cultural cooperation in the Americas. In the legal field, the Inter-American Juridical Committee, composed of eleven jurists who are nationals of Member States, serves as an advisory body to the OAS. The Committee recommends the convening of specialized legal conferences, such as the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Private International Law (CIDIP) which meets approximately every four or five years to deal with technical matters and further cooperation in the area of international private law. Further information on the OAS can be found at:

[32] Canada is not party to any of the 21 OAS conventions in international private law, and had only observer status for the first four CIDIP meetings. Since becoming a member of the OAS in 1990, Canada has been exploring ways of enhancing legal cooperation with other OAS countries. Canada did participate officially in the 1994 Fifth Inter-American Conference on Private International Law (CIDIP-V) and in CIDIP-VI which took place in 2002. Since the adoption of an OAS General Assembly resolution in 2003, CIDIP-VII has been under preparation. Two topics have been selected: one on consumer protection, and the other on secured transactions and electronic registries. Canadian working groups comprised of representatives of the Department of Justice Canada (IPLS) and of federal and provincial/territorial experts are actively participating in the development of both projects. In addition, consultations with stakeholders will continue.


[33] Canada has entered into bilateral conventions on the enforcement of judgments. The first convention of this type was the Canada-UK Convention on the Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (1984) which is in force for all provinces and territories except Quebec.

[34] The Canada-France Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters and on Mutual Legal Assistance in Maintenance was signed on June 10, 1996. A uniform act to implement this Convention was adopted by the ULCC in August 1997.

[35] Canada is also party to bilateral treaties on judicial cooperation (service and taking of evidence abroad) with 25 States. These treaties are available on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at (under the headings “Bilateral” and “Judicial Co-operation (civil and commercial)”).

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