Australian Court sets aside an international arbitration award and removes an arbitrator

The respondents in an international commercial arbitration were successful in the Federal Court in Australia in setting aside parts of two partial awards and removing the sole arbitrator pursuant to Articles 12, 18 and 34 of the UNCITRAL Model Law. These articles are incorporated into Australian law by the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth).

The Court found that the arbitrator had conducted himself in such a manner that the applicants could no longer have confidence in him. This was mainly because the arbitrator had decided various substantive questions in a final manner without giving some of the parties an opportunity to be heard on those questions.

The Court observed that procedural difficulties were encountered due to the hiving off and determination of incomplete separate questions where issues between the parties had not been properly crystallised.

Hui v Esposito Holdings Pty Ltd [2017] FCA 648 and Hui v Esposito Holdings Pty Ltd (No 2) [2017] FCA 728 demonstrate the circumstances in which the Court may review the actions of an arbitrator and may be prepared to terminate an arbitrator’s mandate and set aside awards.

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NSW Supreme Court refuses indemnity costs on successful application for referral to arbitration

Justice Hammerschlag of the New South Wales Supreme Court (the Court) has refused to award indemnity costs to parties which successfully obtained a stay of proceedings in favour of arbitration: John Holland Pty Ltd v Kellogg Brown & Root Pty Ltd (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 565.

The decision was made in the context of a domestic arbitration regulated by the Commercial Arbitration Act 2010 (NSW), although, as his Honour noted in the course of the judgment [t]he International Arbitration Act and the suite of State and Territory Commercial Arbitration Acts enacted since 2010 are generally intended to give effect to the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.  Good policy suggests that absent clear legislative intent to the contrary, construing them so as to result in incongruent outcomes should be avoided. 

In rejecting the application for indemnity costs, the Court declined to follow the approach taken in other regional jurisdictions.

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Victorian courts reinforce commitment to international commercial arbitration

Giedo van der Garde BV v Sauber Motorsport AG [2015] VSC 80; Sauber Motorsport AG v Giedo van der Garde BV [2015] VSCA 37

The occasion of the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne in mid-March 2015 provided a further opportunity for both the Victorian Supreme Court and the Victorian Court of Appeal to demonstrate its support for international commercial arbitration in Australia. The Court enforced a Swiss arbitral award ordering that an F1 team refrain from taking action which would deprive a driver from his entitlement to participate in the 2015 season as one of its nominated drivers.

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Australian Court upholds primacy of the arbitral fact finding process

On 16 July 2014, the Full Federal Court of Australia handed down its reasons for dismissing TCL Air Conditioner (Zhongshan) Co Ltd’s (TCL) appeal[1] from the Court’s decision in in Castel Electronics Pty Ltd v TCL Air Conditioner (Zhongshan) Co Ltd (No 2).[2] The decision clarifies the circumstances in which an arbitral award will be set aside or denied recognition or enforcement under the Model Law as a result of a failure to accord a party procedural fairness in connection with making the award.

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Federal Court of Australia dismisses challenge to enforcement of foreign arbitral awards made in London

Armada (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Under Judicial Management) v Gujarat NRE Coke Limited [2014] FCA 636

Justice Foster of the Federal Court of Australia handed down judgment on 17 June 2014 in an application for the enforcement of three foreign arbitral awards. The key issue for determination before the court was whether the applicant, Armada (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Under Judicial Management) (Armada), had satisfied the requirements of s 9 of the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth) (IAA). The court also considered whether one of the awards contravened public policy, therefore rendering it unenforceable in Australia pursuant to the provisions of the IAA.

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