Dispute Arbitration – The High Court Is Not a Re-Match Venue

28th September 2018 by

Judicial powers to review decisions reached by dispute arbitrators are strictly limited and do not provide an opportunity for disappointed parties to refight factual issues that have already been resolved. The High Court succinctly made that point in a case concerning the acrimonious demise of a business partnership.

All three partners had agreed the terms and ambit of the arbitration in advance. However, after the arbitrator directed one of them to pay the other two almost £950,000, he challenged the outcome under Section 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996. He claimed that the arbitration had been infected by serious irregularity and that he had, as a result, suffered substantial injustice.

In ruling on the case, the Court observed that, in taking point-by-point issue with the arbitrator’s conclusions and findings of fact, the man had misunderstood the nature of the Court’s powers of review. It noted that those who choose arbitration as a means of dispute resolution agree to accept the findings and conclusions of their chosen tribunal. Even if the arbitrator had got the facts wrong, that was not normally a ground on which the Court would intervene.

The man also made more substantive complaints concerning, amongst other things, the arbitrator’s refusal to allow him to rely on documents that had been submitted late and her requirement that he provide security for the amount in dispute. On analysis, however, the Court found that he had failed to establish any serious irregularity in the proceedings and dismissed his challenge.

It is always advisable to take professional advice when settling business disputes. We are here to help. For further information on this topic please contact David Bailey on 01273 810 064 or email david.bailey@healys.com.