English Court Remits Award Due To Arbitrator’s Independent Inquiries

Arbitrator’s independent inquiries amount to a serious irregularity – English court remits award back to arbitrator

Herbert Smith Freehills reviews the decision from the English High Court in Fleetwood Wanderers Ltd (t/a Fleetwood Town Football Club) v AFC Fylde Ltd [2018] EWHC 3318 (Comm), a rare example of a case where the court upheld a challenge to an arbitration award on the grounds of serious irregularity under s.68 of the English Act.  While the case shows that the threshold for such challenges is very high, and serves as a reminder to tribunals that if they wish to make independent inquiries in arbitral proceedings, the s.33 duty to act fairly requires that they notify the parties and give them a reasonable opportunity to address such inquiries, the decision demonstrates that English Courts will intervene in the outcome of arbitral proceedings where there is clear and serious irregularity causing substantial injustice. 

The authors observe that the case also serves as a reminder of the reluctance of the English Courts to set aside or invalidate an arbitral award, even where there has been a substantial procedural irregularity, and that the Courts will look to remit the award back to the arbitrator where possible, consistent with the principle that English Courts do the minimum to interfere in the arbitral process. READ MORE

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About Phillip Rompotis

Phillip practices as a barrister and arbitrator in Hong Kong. He has over 25 years’ litigation and arbitration experience in commercial disputes relating to construction & engineering, financial services, joint venture & shareholders agreements, technology, trusts, property and landlord & tenant. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators, the Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators, and a member of various lists/panels of arbitrators.

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