Every franchise is governed by a contract between the licensor; the franchisor; a licensee; and the franchisee. These contracts are called Franchise Agreements. With franchise businesses accounting for 40% of all retail sales in Canada through 78,000 franchise units, mediation and arbitration clauses are becoming increasingly prevalent. While these franchise agreements may offer significant advantages in some disputes, they may be inappropriate or even increase the complexity, time and cost in other scenarios. Here’s what you need to know about arbitration to determine if it is an appropriate franchise agreement for your business.
Franchise arbitration is one of many clauses that can provide advantages during in-court litigation proceedings. An arbitration clause is a stipulation in your franchise agreement that requires the parties to resolve their disputes through arbitration, outside of court. The outcome of a dispute is decided by one or more persons (“arbitrators”, “arbiters” or “arbitral tribunal”), which renders the “arbitral award”. An arbitral award is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts. A significant advantage of arbitration is the choice of arbitrator and the opportunity to specify that the arbitrator must be experienced in arbitrating franchise disputes.
However, disputes over the arbitration clause or agreement, especially over the enforceability of certain provisions or the choice of arbitrator, can prove costly and time consuming. In these cases, the complications often negate the expected advantages of these franchise agreements, since they are designed to be a quick resolution of a dispute. Law Works Waterloo specializes in franchise law and offers a variety of solutions to franchise disputes.