English Court Allows s.69 Appeal On A Point Of Law

Herbert Smith Freehills reviews the April 2019 decision from the English Court of Appeal in Equitas Insurance Limited v Municipal Mutual Insurance Limited [2019] EWCA Civ 718, where the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal on a point of law under s.69 of the English Act against an award rendered by Flaux LJ as judge-arbitrator. This case is a rare example where permission to appeal under s.69 was granted and, rarer still, where the appeal succeeded.

The threshold to obtain permission to appeal is regarded as a high one:

  • The determination of the question will substantially affect the rights of one or more of the parties
  • The question is one which the tribunal was asked to determine
  • On the basis of the findings of fact in the award
  • the decision of the tribunal on the question is obviously wrong or
  • the question is one of general public importance and the decision of the tribunal is at least open to serious doubt
  • Despite the agreement of the parties to resolve the matter by arbitration, it is just and proper in all the circumstances for the court to determine the question

The authors note that it remains to be seen whether this decision will have an impact on challenges to commercial arbitral awards more generally, or whether its impact will be limited by its particular fact pattern, observing that the s.69 appeals route will remain a relatively unpromising mode of challenge for the majority of commercial arbitrations, especially as most institutional rules exclude appeals under s.69 and few commercial disputes are likely to raise questions of general public importance. …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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