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PARTY CAN APPLY TO COURT TO SET ASIDE AN ARBITRATION AWARD

Dictum

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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HIGH COURT DOES NOT SIT ON APPELLATE FUNCTION OVER ARBITRAL PANEL

In the case of Baker Marine Nigeria Limited v. Chevron Nigeria Limited (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 681) 939 @ 410, it was held that an application to set aside an arbitral award: “The lower Court was not sitting as an appellate Court over the award of the arbitrators. The lower Court was not therefore empowered to determine whether or not the findings of the arbitrators and their conclusions were wrong in law. What the lower Court had to do was to look at the award and determine whether on the state of law as understood by them and stated on the face of the award, the arbitrators complied with the law as they themselves rightly or wrongly perceived it. The approach here is subjective. The Court places itself in the position of the arbitrators, not above them, and then determines on that hypothesis whether the arbitrators followed the law as they understood and expressed it.”

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AWARD IS BINDING ON PARTIES

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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ARBITRAL AWARDS HAVE SAME FORCE AS A JUDGEMENT OF A COURT

Onwu v. Nka (1996) 7 NWLR (Pt.458) 1 at 17 paragraph E, where the Supreme Court, per Iguh JSC. had this to say: “The law is well settled that where disputes or matters in difference between two or more parties are by consent of the disputants submitted to a domestic forum inclusive of arbitrators or a body of persons who may be invested with judicial authority to hear and determine such disputes and matters for investigation in accordance with customary law and general usages, and a decision is duly given, it is as conclusive and unimpeachable (unless and until set aside on any of the recognized grounds) as the decision of any constituted court of the land, such a decision is consequently binding on the parties and the courts in appropriate cases will enforce it.”

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WRONG FACT FINDING CANNOT SET ASIDE AN ARBITRAL AWARD

In arbitration proceedings, the general principle is that facts finding by an Arbitrator is not a ground for setting aside an award on the ground that it is wrong nor on the ground that there is no evidence on which the facts could be found because that would be mere error of law.

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

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ARBITRATION AGREEMENT MUST SATISFY THE NORMAL REQUIREMENT OF A CONTRACT

My Lords, every Arbitration Agreement must satisfy the normal requirement of a contract such as consensus, capacity and legal relationship. Like any other contract, the terms must be clear and certain. The Court would, however, lean towards a construction that will give effect to the intentions of the parties. Thus, where a contract contained an arbitration clause which merely reads “Arbitration if any, by the I.C.C. Rules of London”, the Court held that the words “if any” which were the basis of the opposition were either surplusage or abbreviation for “if any dispute arises” and therefore sufficient. See MANGISTAURAUNAIGAZ OIL PRODUCTION ASSOCIATION v. UNITED WORLD TRADE INC. (1995) LLYOD’S REP. 617. There must also be a valid underlying substantive contract in existence and an arbitration agreement the terms of which are certain and enforceable. The essence of the arbitration agreement is to refer disputes arising between parties to arbitration. The words by which the reference is made must therefore be clear and express, as an inference will not be implied. So also, what is referred must be clearly and sufficiently stated to ensure that jurisdiction is conferred on the arbitrator.

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

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P&ID DID NOT ENTER THE CONTRACT TO JUST GET A SETTLEMENT VIA ARBITRATION, WITH THE INTENTION OF NOT PERFORMING

490. Here, I am satisfied P&ID did intend to perform the GSPA when it entered into it, and that there were means by which it could have done so. Nigeria has characterised the GSPA as a sham and contended that P&ID as a BVI-registered company with no obvious assets, no relevant experience and few employees, had no genuine intention of performing the GSPA, and would never have been able to do so. However P&ID did not have to contemplate performing the GSPA itself with its assets, experience and employees. This is not, as it represented, because it could simply use the work on Project Alpha to perform the GSPA. It is rather because ICIL Group had shown in the past that they could contract in. 491. Whilst P&ID was prepared to bribe in the course of its business, I do not accept it was of the sophistication to conceive at the contract stage a plan to extract large sums of money from Nigeria by means of an arbitration or a corrupt settlement. Consistently, P&ID did not use the GSPA to move directly to arbitration at the first available opportunity. I have found it did not (as alleged by Nigeria) corrupt Mr Shasore SAN. And it appointed, in Sir Anthony Evans, an arbitrator of unquestioned experience, expertise and independence. 492. It is in these circumstances that I have reached the conclusion that the present is not a case in which, when the parties entered into the GSPA, P&ID’s intention was not to perform it but simply to use it as a device to get an award or settlement. However that is not the end of Nigeria’s section 68(2)(g) challenge.

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

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