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”.
In Koshigi Ltd and another company v Donna Union Foundation and another  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.
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.
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.
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  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  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.
In its recent decision in SCM Financial Overseas Ltd v Raga Establishment Ltd  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.
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.
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.
The English Court of Appeal is the latest court to weigh in on this long-running dispute spanning multiple jurisdictions between Messrs Emmott and Wilson, relating to an agreement to establish a “quasi-partnership”. Following an appeal brought by Mr Emmott against the High Court’s decision (which we reported here), the question for the Court of Appeal was whether to uphold the anti-suit injunction granted by the High Court preventing Michael Wilson & Partners, Limited (“MWP”) from pursuing proceedings in the Australian courts in light of the London-seated arbitration agreement between them.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part, issuing a substitute injunction against MWP advancing only the claims which the court deemed to be vexatious and oppressive in undermining the arbitration agreement and process. This judgment helpfully clarifies the circumstances in which the English Court will issue an anti-suit injunction in order to safeguard the integrity of an English-seated arbitral process, and confirms that the court will not permit arbitral proceedings or awards to be undermined by parties against whom adverse findings have been made. However, it also demonstrates that the question of whether proceedings fall within the scope of an arbitration agreement can be a complex and controversial one.
The role of tribunal secretaries in arbitration is an important subject which generates a range of different views, often expressed in strong terms. On 26 October 2017 the LCIA published its updated Notes for Arbitrators (the Notes). The update (contained within section 8 of the Notes) seeks to provide more detail and clarity on the LCIA’s approach to the role and use of tribunal secretaries. Of particular note is the LCIA’s strengthening of consent requirements, requiring the parties to specifically consent to the permissible tasks, remuneration and identity of a tribunal secretary.
In introducing the changes regarding tribunal secretaries, the LCIA has emphasised the two key themes of communication and consent.