英国法院支撑基于过分的和不可原谅的延迟驳回仲裁请求的裁决

发布人: 发布时间:2018-07-19 来源:

在Grindrod Shipping Pte Ltd v Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd一案中,英国高等法院(“the Court“)根据《英国1996年仲裁法》(“AA“) 第68条驳回了对裁决(the “Award“)提出异议的申请。仲裁程序开始六年后,仲裁庭(“Tribunal“)作出了最终裁决,根据AA第41条第(3)款过分的和不可原谅的延迟(inordinate and inexcusable delay),驳回了申请人的请求。Grindod Shipping根据AA第68条对该裁决提出异议,辩称仲裁庭的裁决并非依据被申请人所提出的理由。法院认定,各方当事人都有公平的机会陈述案件,没有违反仲裁庭公平和公正的义务,因此不存在程序上的违规行为。

1、背景

2011年7月,Grindod Shipping对Hyundai提起仲裁程序。截至2016年8月,仲裁程序仅进入证据披露阶段,双方相互指责对方造成了延迟。此后不久,当6年的时效期限刚刚届满时,Hyundai根据AA第41条第(3)款向仲裁庭提出申请,要求驳回该仲裁请求。在双方提交证据之后,根据“根据文件”就该申请作出决定,即任何一方当事人或仲裁庭都认为没有必要开庭审理。

2、仲裁庭裁决

根据AA第41(3)条,如果确信存在过分的和不可原谅的延迟,该延迟(1) 产生或可能产生使请求事项无法得到公平解决的实质性风险;(第41条第(3)款(a)项);或(2)已经导致,或可能导致对被申请人的严重不公,则仲裁庭可以驳回申请人的请求。

仲裁庭认定,存在着过分和不可原谅的延迟。Hyundai辩称,根据第41条第(3)款(a)项规定,质量恶化和证据可获性(deterioration in the quality and availability of evidence)导致存在不公正的巨大风险。仲裁庭驳回了这一论点,认定案件的案情不可能依据事实证人的证据,而是应该以当时的书面文件和专家证据为依据。然而,仲裁庭认为,根据第41条第(3)款(b)项规定,这一延迟对Hyundai造成了“严重侵害”(“serious prejudice”)。2011年,针对该仲裁请求提交了一份担保申请,2016年,由于Hyundai公开的财务困难,该申请被重新提起,并作出不利于Hyundai的裁定。仲裁庭认为,提供担保的裁定导致其一艘船舶被扣船的威胁,从而对Hyundai造成了严重侵害。进一步的侵害是由于该裁定以及扣船威胁间接危及了Hyundai的重组计划。如果该申请于2014年提交仲裁庭(它本该这么做,但由于过分的和不可原谅的延迟),Hyundai就不会面临这些问题。仲裁庭驳回了仲裁申请。

3、Grindod对该裁决提出异议

Grindod根据AA第68条的“严重失常”(serious irregularity)行为对该裁决提出异议,并根据AA第69条对法律问题提出上诉。法院驳基于书面材料驳回了根据第69条提出的请求,理由是仲裁庭根据该AA第41条第(3)款作出的裁决是事实之一,或者最多是混合法律和事实(atbest mixed law and fact),而且仲裁庭没有进行任何错误的法律认定。

根据第68条第(2)款(a)项,Grindod辩称,在确定第41条第(3)款时违反了第33条所规定的一般义务,仲裁庭提出了自己的理由,即裁定延迟造成了第41条第(3)款下的“严重侵害”,并以此作为其结论的基础,确定Hyundai提供担保的财政负担。

4、高等法院的判决

法院确定了仲裁庭根据AA第33条承担一般义务的若干既定原则:与争议有关的包括:(一) 仲裁庭必须让当事人有机会陈述任何可能构成其裁决基础的问题;(二)如果仲裁庭打算根据当事人未提出的观点作出决定,它必须使当事人有机会陈述这些观点;(三) 依据书面文件作出决定或口头陈述机会有限的情况下,必须特别注意。

在ABB AG v. Hochtief Airport GmbH [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1 和Reliance Industries Ltd v Union of India[2018] EWHC 822案后,法院认为,如果某观点在仲裁程序中提及(“in play” “in the arena” )时,即认定一方当事人有机会陈述其观点。只要当事人能够就仲裁庭裁决所依据的“基本问题”(“essential issues”)进行陈述,就没有必要当事人在仲裁庭采取的特别形式陈述这一问题。Hyundai没有以“严重侵害”为理由提出Hyundai的财政困难问题,但Hyundai将其确定为与仲裁庭根据第41(3)条行使自由裁量权有关的一个因素,Grindod得到了公平陈述的机会。因此,不存在严重失常行为。

即使对Grindod关于严重失常的观点进行认定,法院也不会认定Grindod面临严重不公的程度达到了符合AA第68条的要求,可能提出的论点也不大可能影响仲裁庭的决定。

 5、评论

这一判决提醒人们,仲裁庭在满足第41条第(3)款的要求时,有相当大的自由裁量权,可以驳回仲裁请求。这也是一个有益的提示,即各方应确保可能对其案件不利的所有问题作出答复,而不论这些问题是在什么情况下提出的。

 

【英文部分】

Award dismissing a claim for inordinate and inexcusable delay survives challenge inthe English court

By Nicholas Peacock

In Grindrod Shipping Pte Ltd v Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd, the English High Court (“the Court“) rejected an application under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (“the Act“)to challenge an Award (the “Award“). Six years after the proceedings had commenced, the tribunal (“Tribunal“) issued a final award dismissing the claim under s41(3) of the Act on the ground of inordinate and inexcusable delay. Grindod Shipping challenged the award under s68 of the Act, arguing that the Tribunal’s decision was based on grounds not advanced by the respondent. The Court concluded that the issues had been sufficiently “in play” for all sides to have had a fair opportunity to respond. There was no breach of the tribunal’s duty to act fairly and impartially and therefore no procedural irregularity.

Background

In July 2011, Grindod Shipping commenced arbitral proceedings against Hyundai. By August 2016, the proceedings had only reached the stage of documentary disclosure, with each side blaming the other for the delay. Shortly thereafter, when the six year limitation period had jus texpired, Hyundai applied to the Tribunal under s41(3) of the Act to have the claim dismissed.  After submissions by both parties, the application was determined “on the papers”, with no hearing being thought necessary by either party or the Tribunal.

The Tribunal’s Award

Under s41(3) of the Act, a tribunal may dismiss a claim if it is satisfied that there has been an inordinate and excusable delay which (i) gives rise, or is likely to give rise, to a substantial risk that it is not possible to have a fair resolution of the issues in that claim (s41(3)(a)); or (ii) has caused, or is likely to cause,serious prejudice to the respondent (s41(3)(b)).

The Tribunal found that there had been inexcusable and inordinate delay. Hyundai argued that the deterioration in the quality and availability of evidence gave rise to a substantial risk of unfairness under s41(3)(a). The Tribunal rejected this contention, finding that the merits of the case were unlikely to turn on the evidence of factual witnesses and would rest instead on contemporaneous documentation and expert evidence. However, the Tribunal considered that the delay caused “serious prejudice” to Hyundai under s41(3)(b). An application for security for the claim had been made in 2011 and was renewed and ordered against Hyundai in 2016, prompted by Hyundai’s well-publicised financial difficulties. The Tribunal considered that the order to provide security, which led to the threatened arrest of one of its ships, caused substantial prejudice to Hyundai.Further prejudice was caused because the order and the mere threat of arrest indirectly jeopardised Hyundai’s restructuring programme. Had the matter come before the Tribunal in 2014 (which it would have done but for the inordinate and inexcusable delay), Hyundai would not have faced such issues. The Tribunal dismissed the claim, awarding Hyundai its costs in full.

Grindod’s challenges to the Award

Grindod challenged the award on the grounds of serious irregularity under s68 of the Act and appealed on a point of law under s69 of the Act. The Court rejected the s69 application on the papers,on the basis that the Tribunal’s decision under s41(3) of the Act was one offact, or at best mixed law and fact, and that there was no legal test on whichthe Tribunal was said to have erred.

Under s68(2)(a), Grindod argued that theTribunal had acted in breach of its general duty under s33 in determining the s41(3) by formulating its own grounds for finding that the delay was causing “serious prejudice” under s41(3) and resting its conclusion on the financial burden on Hyundai of providing the security.

The High Court’s judgment

The Court identified a number of well-established principles relating to the tribunal’s general duty under s33of the Act: that were relevant to the dispute: (i) a tribunal must allow the parties an opportunity to deal with any issues that might form the basis of their findings; (ii) if the tribunal is minded to base its decision on issues not raised by the parties, it must give the parties an opportunity to address these issues; and (iii) additional care must be taken when a decision will be made on the papers or where the chance for oral submissions is limited.

Following ABB AG v. Hochtief Airport GmbH [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1 andReliance Industries Ltd v Union of India[2018] EWHC 822, the Court held that a party has an opportunity to address a point if the point is “in play” or “in the arena” in the proceedings. It is not necessary that the issue has been raised by a party in the specific formulation adopted by the Tribunal, provided the parties have been able to address the “essential issues” on which the Tribunal’s decision is based. Hyundai’s financial hardship was not raised by Hyundai in the context of “serious prejudice”, but it was identified by Hyundai as a factor relevant to the exercise of the Tribunal’s discretion under s41(3), and Grindod was given a fair opportunity to offer submissions in response. There had therefore been no serious irregularity.

Even if it had found for Grindod on the serious irregularity point, the Court said it would not have found that Grindod had faced substantial injustice so as to satisfy s68 of the Act. The arguments which could have been made would have been unlikely to affect the Tribunal’s decision.

Comment

This judgment serves as a reminder of the considerable discretion afforded to a tribunal to dismiss a claim when the requirements of s41(3) are satisfied.  It is also a salutary prompt that parties should ensure they respond to all issues that may be adverse to their case,regardless of the context in which those issues are raised.


来源:临时仲裁ADA不代表本会意见

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