English CA Upholds Extension Of Time To Commence Arbitration

English Court of Appeal Upholds an Extension of Time to Commence Arbitration

Latham & Watkins consider the English Court of Appeal’s 2018 decision in Haven Insurance Company Limited v EUI Limited (T/A Elephant Insurance) [2018] EWCA Civ 2494, where the English Court of Appeal granted Elephant an extension of time to bring arbitration proceedings after the expiry of a time bar. The CA held that the lack of clarity in the dispute resolution procedures of the Motor Insurers Bureau meant that Elephant had not acted unreasonably and ought to have the opportunity to pursues its claim out of time. Not to be taken as the court’s relaxation of requirements to abide with time provisions, the CA recognised that section 12 is “[o]ne of the rare circumstances in which the court may intervene” in arbitration, noting that the case involved “quite exceptional circumstances” in which there was an established custom.

Importantly (and perhaps not unexpectedly), the CA emphasised that the usual position was that the court would not rescue a party that had failed to comply with a contractually agreed time bar, and the decision serves as a reminder of the importance in complying with time limits and the courts’ unwillingness to interfere with the parties’ agreed procedures for an arbitration.

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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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