The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (“CFA“) has today refused to interfere with a judgment of the Hong Kong Court of Appeal (“CA“) on the setting aside of arbitral Awards in Hong Kong.
The CA’s unanimous judgment of 9 May 2012 in Grand Pacific Holdings Ltd. v. Pacific China Holdings Ltd. (click here for a copy of the judgment) had been positively received in the arbitration community as demonstrating the arbitration-friendly and non-interventionist approach of the Hong Kong courts. The judgment, which was concerned with alleged violations of Article 34(2) of the UNCITRAL Model Law, highlighted the wide case management powers of arbitral Tribunals. Whilst the CA held that the arbitral Tribunal which rendered the Award had not breached Article 34(2), the Court made clear that, in order for an arbitral Award to be set aside on due process grounds, it must be shown that any breaches of Article 34(2) were of a “serious” or even “egregious” nature. Click here for our previous blog entry on the CA’s judgment.
In refusing Pacific China leave to appeal, today’s decision by the CFA means that the CA’s judgment now stands as the authoritative statement of the law in relation to the setting aside of arbitral Awards in Hong Kong (and is likely to be influential in other UNCITRAL Model Law jurisdictions as well). It therefore provides welcome confirmation that the Hong Kong courts will be slow to interfere with the procedural decisions of arbitral tribunals, in line with international standards.
Herbert Smith Freehills partner Justin D’Agostino and a team of associates in Hong Kong acted for Grand Pacific in the CA and CFA proceedings, along with Teresa Cheng SC and Adrian Lai of Des Voeux Chambers in Hong Kong.
The CA’s judgment was recently shortlisted by Global Arbitration Review for an award as the “Most important published decision of 2012 in jurisprudential terms (award or judgment)”. Click here for more details.