ENGLISH COURT GRANTS ANTI-SUIT INJUNCTION ORDERING THE DEFENDANT TO DISCONTINUE ITS CLAIM IN A NEW YORK COURT UNDER A D&O INSURANCE POLICY

In a recent case, the English High Court (the Court) granted XL Insurance Company (XL) a final anti-suit injunction restraining Peter Little (PL) from pursuing litigation proceedings against XL in the District Court of the Southern District of New York (the New York proceedings), on the basis that PL was bound by the arbitration agreement mandating London-seated arbitration in the directors’ and officers’ (D&O) insurance policy (the Policy) issued by XL to PL’s former employer, Barclays PLC (Barclays).

While this decision does not advance the law in this area, it highlights a key advantage of choosing London as the arbitral seat, particularly in sectors where claims are likely to be brought by parties who had not themselves entered into the arbitration agreement. Continue reading

ENGLISH COURT FINDS ONE ERROR OF LAW BUT DECLINES TO OVERTURN AWARD UNDER S69 ARBITRATION ACT 1996

The English High Court (the Court) in Eleni Shipping Limited v Transgrain Shipping B.V. [2019] EWHC 910 (Comm) has reviewed an arbitral award, following an appeal on a point of law brought under s69 Arbitration Act 1996 (s69 AA 1996), and determined that the tribunal made an error of law. While the Court ultimately refused to overturn the award, as it upheld the tribunal’s interpretation of the second point of law in question, this case is nevertheless significant as a rare example of the Court ruling that the tribunal had erred under s69.

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FIVE AT HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS RANKED IN INAUGURAL TOP 200 UK INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION POWERLIST

Herbert Smith Freehills’ London-based international arbitration partners Paula Hodges QC, Craig Tevendale, Nicholas Peacock, Andrew Cannon and Chris Parker have all been named amongst 200 leading lawyers in Legal 500’s inaugural UK International Arbitration Powerlist.

The list, which is based on extensive research by Legal 500, highlights the UK’s leading arbitration practitioners working in law firms and at the Bar. The research is based upon submissions, client referees, interviews and feedback to refine the top arbitrators globally.

The firm’s international arbitration team in the UK has been described by Legal 500 as a ‘strong team of dedicated lawyers who master complex subject matters… the advice is pragmatic, measured and fit for purpose’.

UK Head of Arbitration Craig Tevendale commented: “We are all thrilled to feature in the inaugural “Powerlist” amongst esteemed colleagues from within the UK arbitration community, a great many of whom we recently hosted at our London Arbitration Community Dinner. It is fantastic to have all five partners recognised in this way”.

English High Court orders indemnity costs in discontinued s.68 proceedings to challenge awards

In Koshigi Ltd and another company v Donna Union Foundation and another [2019] EWHC 122 (Comm) the English High Court considered an application for costs arising from discontinued proceedings under s.68 Arbitration Act 1996 to challenge two arbitral awards. The claimant in the underlying arbitration had successfully obtained two awards in its favour from the tribunal, which the respondents then sought to challenge in the English courts through two related sets of proceedings for serious irregularity under s.68, alleging bias on the part of the chairman of the tribunal. The respondents then discontinued the s.68 proceedings before they reached a hearing, asserting that the awards which they were seeking to challenge had become unenforceable.

In considering the claimant’s application for costs in relation to the discontinued proceedings, the Court decided that the liability for the costs rested with the applicants (the respondents in the arbitration) and that the costs should be assessed on an indemnity basis rather than the usual – and typically lower  – standard basis. The Court’s approach, which disincentivizes the pursuit of s.68 applications without a strong substantive basis, is consistent with other attempts by the English courts to block applicants who bring weak s.68 appeals.

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Prague Rules on efficiency in arbitration now launched

The new Rules on the Efficient Conduct of Proceedings in International Arbitration (Prague Rules) launched last month in the Czech Republic and aim to provide a more efficient framework for arbitral procedure which can be used to streamline a dispute, reducing delay and costs. Their approach is closer to civil law than common law traditions, with the tribunal pro-actively managing the dispute from the start.

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ICC STRIVES FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY AND EFFICIENCY IN UPDATED PRACTICE NOTE TO PARTIES AND ARBITRAL TRIBUNALS ON THE CONDUCT OF ARBITRATION UNDER THE ICC RULES

On 20 December 2018, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) published updated guidance on the conduct of arbitration under its arbitration rules. The Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration under the ICC Rules of Arbitration (Note) entered into force on 1 January 2019, and represents a continuation of the ICC’s efforts to increase transparency and efficiency, and widen its range of services to users.  We consider six of the most significant updates to the Note below.

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English court provides new guidance on summary dismissal process for groundless serious irregularity challenges

The English High Court has in the last few days proposed a procedurally strict approach to serious irregularity challenges under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 where these have already been dismissed on paper. The decision in Midnight Marine Ltd v Thomas Miller Speciality Underwriting Agency Ltd [2018] EWHC 3431 (Comm) suggests that the court should take a more active role in preventing such hearings from escalating into a full s68 challenge hearing (case available here).

The High Court’s earlier decision in the case of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria v Qatar National Bank [2018] EWHC 2218 (Comm) covered in our previous blog post, demonstrated the difficulty in disposing of bad s68 challenges quickly. This judgment emphasised that an oral hearing will usually be granted after a challenge is thrown out on paper, unless the case is “something akin to vexatious“. In this case, the summary dismissal of the s68 challenge was nevertheless followed by two further applications, and an oral hearing, before the challenge was finally thrown out.

Both of these recent cases promote the summary dismissal process in paragraph O8.5 of the Commercial Court Guide as a useful tool for weeding out unmeritorious s68 challenges, but the decisions differ on how to treat applications to set aside orders dismissing such challenges. The decision in Midnight Marine v Thomas Miller takes a tougher line than the earlier Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria v Qatar National Bank decision, suggesting that the oral hearing referred to in the summary dismissal process should be a very short hearing, directed only at the question of whether the application has a real prospect of success.

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English High Court refuses to set aside award made without awaiting outcome of relevant domestic court proceedings

In its recent decision in SCM Financial Overseas Ltd v Raga Establishment Ltd [2018] EWHC 1008 (Comm) (available here), the English High Court (“Court“) refused to set aside an award on the ground of serious irregularity in circumstances where the London-seated tribunal applying the LCIA rules (“Tribunal“) proceeded to issue an award rather than await the outcome of domestic court proceedings which could have had a significant impact on the issues before the Tribunal.

The Court’s decision is significant because it highlights the wide discretion afforded to tribunals to manage the proceedings as they see fit, and demonstrates that there is an high bar to a successful challenge under section 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (“Act“). The decision also provides interesting observations on the relationship between arbitral and domestic court proceedings, and the inherent risk of inconsistent decisions should a party choose to arbitrate.

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2017 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics show steady growth

The ICC has recently published its preliminary 2017 statistics, showing a slightly lower case load than the record-breaking 2016, but still indicating a steady long term growth. A total of 810 new cases were filed in 2017, involving 2316 parties from a record 142 countries. These newly-registered cases represented an aggregate value in dispute of over US$30.85 billion, with an average amount in dispute of US$45 million. Overall, these numbers demonstrate ICC’s global reach and leading position for complex, high-value disputes.

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Inside Arbitration: Issue #5 of the publication from Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Arbitration Practice

We are delighted to share with you the latest issue of the publication from the Herbert Smith Freehills Global Arbitration Practice, Inside Arbitration.

In addition to sharing knowledge and insights about the markets and industries in which our clients operate, the publication offers personal perspectives of our international arbitration partners from across the globe.

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