The extent to which confidentiality debars disclosure or inspection of documents, or an award or associated document, in arbitration proceedings has long fuelled debate within the law reports.
In Sabbagh v Khoury, the Court of Appeal confirmed the court’s jurisdiction to grant an anti-arbitration injunction (AAI) in exceptional cases where it would be vexatious and oppressive because of proceedings in England. Additionally, it held that it was not necessary for the exercise of that jurisdiction to show that England was forum conveniens.
The modern approach of English law to arbitration (as reflected in the English Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996)) reflects the core principle of party autonomy: see the Departmental Advisory Committee on Arbitration Law Report on the Arbitration Bill (DAC Report) at paragraphs 19-22.
A week before Christmas 2018, the Rules on the Efficient Conduct of Proceedings in International Arbitration (Prague Rules) were published. The title suggests that, without them, arbitral proceedings are condemned to be inefficient. The prefatory note from the working group reinforces that impression:
Whether it is in the context of a jurisdiction challenge or by way of response to an application to restrain proceedings said to be in breach of an arbitration agreement, the wording of the arbitration clause is the usual starting point for determining the arbitrability of a dispute. The courts will be generous in their … Continue reading Preserving the right to arbitrate: where are the boundaries to an arbitration agreement?
On 12 February 2019, Quadrant Chambers hosted an evening where the international arbitration community could gather and ventilate their experiences, concerns, and hopes as the United Kingdom moves closer towards exiting the European Union.
It is a not uncommon feature of arbitration that an arbitral tribunal will from time to time take “judicial notice” of notorious facts without requiring the parties to adduce specific evidence to prove those facts. Furthermore, arbitrators are almost always appointed because of their particular expertise or experience of particular types of disputes.
On 20 November 2018, about 50 participants attended Quadrant Chambers’ biannual international arbitration seminar. The topic for discussion and debate was “Feeding back to arbitrators”. The panel event was chaired by Simon Rainey QC of Quadrant Chambers and the speakers were Paula Hodges QC, head of global arbitration at Herbert Smith Freehills and future LCIA … Continue reading Feeding back to arbitrators?
Arbitration specialists in solicitors’ firms are familiar with the evening phone call from transactional colleagues: “Can you look at our arbitration clause? We need to sign the contract tonight”. Frustrating as such entreaties can be, it is preferable to be asked in advance than to encounter a problematic clause for the first time after a … Continue reading New claims may be added relatively late in a proceeding if they are within scope of reference to arbitration
Roy Cohn, the well-known US lawyer, said, “I don’t want to know what the law is, I want to know who the judge is”. One of the advantages of arbitration over court litigation is that the parties know from the outset the arbitrator(s) who will be making the decisions in their case. As international arbitration … Continue reading Who is my arbitrator? The need for greater transparency in arbitration
Just as the increasing use of law clerks in the US court system has led to increased academic study and public discussion of their role and function, so too has the increased use of tribunal secretaries in international arbitration promoted discussion about their use and role. However, the nature of international arbitrations is such that … Continue reading Tribunal secretaries and decision-making in arbitration
Getting the court’s permission to appeal an arbitral award on a point of law under section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996) is not straightforward. An applicant must establish not only that the tribunal’s approach to a question of law was obviously wrong or, if the matter is one of general public importance, … Continue reading Permission to appeal on a point of law: Agile Holdings Corporation v Essar Shipping Ltd
The Court of Appeal held in Halliburton Company v Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd that an arbitrator may have a legal duty to disclose circumstances relating to impartiality, even if they do not meet the test for apparent bias under section 24(1)(a) of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996). In other words, even if the circumstances … Continue reading A newly announced legal duty of disclosure for arbitrators in England and Wales
The case of P v D, X & Y, heard in November 2017 but only recently published, concerned an application under section 68(2)(d) of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996) in which P, the claimant in a London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) arbitration, claimed that the failure of the tribunal to deal with … Continue reading Who should pay for serious irregularities in international arbitration?
The English courts have traditionally followed the principle of non-intervention in arbitral proceedings. This non-interventionist stance was given statutory force under section 1(c) of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996), which provides that “the court should not intervene except as provided by [the Arbitration Act 1996]”.
On 20 February 2018, about 80 participants attended Quadrant Chambers’ biannual international arbitration seminar. The topic for discussion and debate was “Jurisdiction Issues in Arbitration”. The panel event was chaired by Simon Rainey QC of Quadrant Chambers and the speakers were Louis Flannery (now QC), Head of International Arbitration at Stephenson Harwood, Philippa Charles, Head … Continue reading Jurisdiction issues in arbitration
Sections 31 and 73 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996) prescribe the circumstances in which a party may lose the right to object to the tribunal’s jurisdiction. These provisions are mandatory.
Despite the tensions that sometimes arise in the relationship between national courts and the institutions of international arbitration, one critical area of cooperation is the support that national courts provide by way of interim relief. One of the most obvious examples of that relief is the granting of freezing injunctions and disclosure orders restraining a … Continue reading Emergency interim relief: where do you go?
Two recent decisions of the High Court have provided salutary illustrations, reminders and guidance as to substantive and procedural aspects of English arbitration law: one in the context of the requirements for relief under section 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996), and the other as regards arbitral confidentiality and the extent to which … Continue reading Relief and confidentiality: Sowden v Smyth-Tyrrell and UMS Holdings Ltd v Great Station Properties SA