Challenging an arbitral award for serious irregularity: recent developments

Challenging an arbitral award for serious irregularity: recent developments


CategoryArticles Author David Sawtell Date

No one likes losing.” As the authors of Redfern and Hunter on the Law and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration (6th edition) note in their opening words to their chapter on challenges to arbitral awards, a losing party will often look for ways to disturb what should be a final and binding determination of the dispute. If, however, there has been a serious irregularity affecting the fairness of the arbitration, both the Arbitration Act 1996 (‘AA 1996’) in England and the UNICITRAL Model Law contain provisions allowing a limited right to challenge the award.

Three recent decisions in the English High Court dealing with challenges to arbitral awards on the grounds of serious irregularity arising out of the way in which the arbitral tribunal dealt with evidence and procedure provide an opportunity to re-visit the statutory framework for such challenges and the principles that are applied. In two of them, the challenge failed (Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (trading as OHL Internacional) and another company v Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development [2019] EWHC 2539 (Comm); ASA v TL [2020] 2270 (Comm)); in one of them (P v D [2019] EWHC 1277 (Comm), [2020] 1 All ER (Comm) 174), where a witness was not cross-examined about a central aspect of the case which led to a conclusion against a party, the challenge succeeded.

You can read David Sawtell’s full post on our Commercial, Construction & International Arbitration Blog here.


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