English Commercial Court rules that a party must act “promptly” in raising a challenge to the effectiveness of arbitral proceedings, and rejects application for set aside of partial award


In Radisson Hotels APS Denmark v Hayat Otel Işletmeciliği Turizm Yatırım Ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi [2023] EWHC 892 (Comm) the Commercial Court has rejected an application made by Radisson Hotels APS (Radisson) to set aside, on the grounds of serious irregularity, a partial arbitral award relating to a hotel mismanagement claim brought by Hayat Otel Işletmeciliği Turizm Yatırım Ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi (Hayat).

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Livian on a prayer: Claimant’s last hope s68 challenge is firmly rejected by the Commercial Court

The Commercial Court has rejected an attempt to challenge an LCIA award on grounds of serious irregularity under section 68(2)(a) of the Arbitration Act 1996: Livian GmbH v Elektra Ltd and another [2022] EWHC 757 (Comm). The Court held that the contention that the Tribunal had overlooked undisputed witness testimony could not form the basis of an allegation of serious irregularity and, in any event, the Claimant had failed to demonstrate that evidence was overlooked or that any alleged omission would have had a significant impact on the outcome.

This judgment is another example of the robustness of the English Courts when faced with challenges to arbitral awards and their continued deference to tribunal decision-making. Continue reading


In PBO v DONPRO and others [2021] EWHC 1951 (Comm), the English High Court (the Court) allowed a number of challenges brought by PBO under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) against an arbitral award rendered by the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC) Board of Appeal (the Board). As such, this is an unusual example of a successful s68 challenge, made all the more unusual by the number of irregularities raised by the applicant, all of which were upheld by the Court.

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In Reliance Industries Ltd and another company v The Union of India [2020] EWHC 263 (Comm), the English Commercial Court (the “Court”) considered a series of challenges under sections 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the “Act”) to a further award (the “Further Award”) made on issues remitted to the Tribunal after earlier challenges to parts of an arbitration award (the “Final Partial Award” or “FPA”) brought under sections 67, 68 and 69 of the Act.

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In K v S [2019] EWHC 2386 (Comm), the English Court (the Court) dismissed a challenge to a London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) arbitral tribunal’s procedural order. The challenge was made on the grounds of serious irregularity under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) but was dismissed for failing to satisfy any of the s68 requirements and for challenging a procedural order rather than an award. The judgment provides a clear indication of the parameters within which a s68 challenge may be brought.

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An arbitral award was recently challenged in the English High Court (the Court) in K v P [2019] EWHC 589 (Comm). In a rare example of a successful challenge under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996, the Court held that (i) the tribunal had failed to deal with an issue put to it, and (ii) the Claimants had been denied the opportunity properly to present their case. The Court remitted the award back to the tribunal, notwithstanding its review of the tribunal’s handling of the case and criticism of the two years taken to hand down its award.

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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 court sets aside arbitration award for serious irregularity due to tribunal’s non-disclosure of novel point central to award

The odds of successfully challenging an arbitral award in the English Courts on the basis of s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (serious irregularity) remain low. In the recent past over 95% of s68 challenges have been unsuccessful and in the period from 2015 to 2017 only 3 out of 112 s68 appeals succeeded, approximately 2.7% of applications made.

However, the English High Court has recently set aside an arbitral award for serious irregularity under s68(2)(a) in the case of RJ and another v HB [2018] EWHC 2833 (Comm). This case is a relatively rare and interesting example of a successful s68(2)(a) challenge.

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English Court dismisses attempt to set aside LCIA award on grounds of serious irregularity

In the recent case of X v Y [2018] EWHC 741 (Comm), the English High Court dismissed an application to set aside an arbitral award under s68 of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) on the basis that the claimant should have first exhausted all remedies available to it by applying to the tribunal for correction or clarification of the award under s57(3) of the Act.  The Court found that a tribunal had power under Article 27.1 of the LCIA Rules 1998 to clarify ambiguity in the award, and that Article 27.1 did not, in any case,  oust the tribunal’s equivalent power under s57(3) of the Act. The wording of Article 27.1 in the LCIA Rules 2014 now expressly refers to correcting any ambiguity.

The case is a useful reminder to unsuccessful parties to analyse quickly and thoroughly an award and to ensure that any available process under s57 is exhausted before an application is made under s68. In particular, those who consider that the tribunal’s award is deficient for failing to deal with all issues put to it should assess whether such a complaint may be dealt with under s57(3) as a failure to give (adequate) reasons.

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Remission or Set Aside for an arbitral award where a challenge for serious irregularity is made out before the English courts?

In the case of The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Raytheon Systems Limited [2015] EWHC 311 (TCC) and [2014] EWHC 4375 (TCC), the English Court has set aside an arbitral award for serious irregularity under s68(2)(d).

Mr Justice Akenhead found that the Tribunal in question had failed to consider two important issues (one of liability and another of quantum) such that a serious irregularity had occurred which had caused substantial injustice to the claimant. In a later hearing, the judge considered the appropriate relief for that serious irregularity, concluding that the case was one in which it was appropriate to set aside the Award and for the case heard by a new Tribunal.

The two decisions add to the relatively sparse caselaw on these two provisions of the Act. The first is one of very few to consider and make a finding of serious irregularity under s68(2)(d). In grappling with when it is “inappropriate” to remit a matter back to the original arbitral tribunal, the second decision provides helpful parameters for when set-aside is the correct relief for such a finding. Continue reading