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HIGH COURT DOES NOT SIT ON APPELLATE FUNCTION OVER ARBITRAL PANEL

Dictum

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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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...

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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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CONSIDERATIONS OF PUBLIC POLICY IN ARBITRAL PROCEEDINGS

As to public policy, in Cuflet Chartering v. Carousel Shipping Co Ltd [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Re 707 Moore-Bick J (as he then was) said: “Considerations of public policy can never be exhaustively defined, but they should be approached with extreme caution … It has to be shown that there is some illegality or that the enforcement of the award would be clearly injurious to the public good or, possibly, that enforcement would be wholly offensive to the ordinary reasonable and fully informed member of the public on whose behalf the powers of the state are exercised.”

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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...

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ARBITRATION PANELS ARE SPECIAL QUASI-JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS

As a foundation, I would state that Arbitration proceedings are special quasi-judicial proceedings which are specifically provided for, regulated and governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act as well as the Arbitration Rules provided for in the schedule to the Act. The proceedings are not the same as the usual judicial proceedings in the determination...

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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...

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