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AWARD IS BINDING ON PARTIES

Dictum

What the learned trial Judge recognized and ordered to be enforced was an arbitral award not a judgment. Appellant should have pursued in England by way of an appeal against the arbitral award but failed to do so. The award is binding on the parties and since the arbitral award is not fraudulently procured and it’s not against public policy, the court is bound to give effect to such award.

— Mshelia, JCA. Tulip v Noleggioe (2010) – CA/L/744/07

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PARTY CAN APPLY TO COURT TO SET ASIDE AN ARBITRATION AWARD

The provisions simply provide any of the parties to an arbitration award a discretionary right to request, pray for or seek from a Court of law, an order refusing or declining to accord judicial recognition or enforcement of the arbitral award between them. By dint of the provisions, a party to an arbitral agreement is vested with and possesses the unfettered right to approach a Court of law to request that the arbitration award between the parties, should not be recognized and enforced by the Court. The provisions merely provide a right of access to a Court of law for the sole purpose of requesting for or seeking an order that would refuse to recognize and/or enforce an arbitral award the parties thereto, to any one of them.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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FROM THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE IT SHOWS THAT ARBITRATION MAY BE MORE OPEN TO FRAUD

582. Regardless of my decision, I hope the facts and circumstances of this case may provoke debate and reflection among the arbitration community, and also among state users of arbitration, and among other courts with responsibility to supervise or oversee arbitration. The facts and circumstances of this case, which are remarkable but very real, provide an opportunity to consider whether the arbitration process, which is of outstanding importance and value in the world, needs further attention where the value involved is so large and where a state is involved. 583. The risk is that arbitration as a process becomes less reliable, less able to find difficult but important new legal ground, and more vulnerable to fraud. The present case shows that having (as here) a tribunal of the greatest experience and expertise is not enough. Without reflection, then a case such as the present could happen again, and not reach the court.

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING GOOD REPRESENTATION IN ARBITRAL PROCEEDINGS BY PARTIES

587. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s allegations, I have not found Nigeria’s lawyers in the Arbitration to be corrupt. But the case has shown examples where legal representatives did not do their work to the standard needed, where experts failed to do their work, and where politicians and civil servants failed to ensure that Nigeria as a state participated properly in the Arbitration. The result was that the Tribunal did not have the assistance that it was entitled to expect, and which makes the arbitration process work. And Nigeria did not in the event properly consider, select and attempt admittedly difficult legal and factual arguments that the circumstances likely required. Even without the dishonest behaviour of P&ID, Nigeria was compromised. 588. But what is an arbitral tribunal to do? The Tribunal in the present case allowed time where it felt it could and applied pressure where it felt it should. Perhaps some encouragement to better engagement can be seen as well. Yet there was not a fair fight. And the Tribunal took a very traditional approach. But was the Tribunal stuck with what parties did or did not appear to bring forward? Could and should the Tribunal have been more direct and interventionist when it was so clear throughout the Arbitration that Nigeria’s lawyers were not getting instructions, or when at the quantum hearing Nigeria’s then Leading Counsel, Chief Ayorinde, was failing to put necessary points to experts to test their opinion and Nigeria’s own experts (for whatever reason) had not done the work required? Should the Tribunal have taken the initiative to encourage exploration of new bounds of contract law and the law of damages that may today be required where major long term contracts are involved?

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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IMPORTANCE OF COURT IN RESOLVING DISPUTES AS AGAINST ARBITRATION

589. The privacy of arbitration meant that there was no public or press scrutiny of what was going on and what was not being done. When courts are concerned it is often said that the “open court principle” helps keep judges up to the mark. But it also allows scrutiny of the process as a whole, and what the lawyers and other professionals are doing, and (where a state is involved) what the state is doing to address a dispute on behalf of its people. An open process allows the chance for the public and press to call out what is not right.
591. And Lord Wolfson KC will forgive my quoting his submission for his client in oral closing argument: “Section 68 is not there to give you a remedy if you instruct an honest lawyer who makes a mess of it or doesn’t take an available point. That is just tough. You have made your arbitration bed and you lie on it”. Blunt and correct. But, unless accompanied by public visibility or greater scrutiny by arbitrators, how suitable is the process in a case such as this where what is at stake is public money amounting to a material percentage of a state’s GDP or budget? Is greater visibility in arbitrations involving a state or state owned entities part of the answer?
— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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GENERAL PRINCIPLES APPLICABLE IN REGULAR COURTS ARE NOT APPLICABLE IN ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS

In this context, the general principles of law laid down and applicable to and in proceedings of the regular Courts in the process of judicial adjudication of causes or matters before them do not ordinarily apply to such quasi judicial arbitral proceedings which the parties by their free and voluntary choice, opted to resort to in the settlement of their disputes rather than the judicial/adjudication of the regular Courts.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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CRIMINAL MATTERS & FRAUD ARE NOT ARBITRABLE

Disputes which are subject of an arbitration agreement must be arbitrable. Matters like criminal matters or where fraud is alleged and raised as a matter of public policy are not to be settled privately by arbitration. See B. J. EXPORT & CHEMICAL CO. LTD v. KADUNA PETRO-CHEMICAL CO. LTD. (Supra).

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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