Arbitration & ADR updates

Australia

Contributed by Clifford Chance LLP
No requirement to provide evidence or documents in foreign-seated arbitration
  • Australia
  • November 09 2017

The Federal Court recently declined an application for leave to issue subpoenas pursuant to Section 23 of the International Arbitration Act 1974 on the basis that Section 23 of the act did not give the court jurisdiction to do so in aid of an arbitration seated outside Australia. While some practitioners will agree with the court's strict interpretation of the act, others – particularly those engaged in international arbitration in Asia-Pacific – may find the decision less satisfactory.

Nothing to get wound up about: Federal Court refers Masters case to arbitration
  • Australia
  • October 12 2017

In a recent case, the Federal Court stayed the proceedings brought before it and referred the dispute to arbitration, save for the ultimate question of whether a winding-up order against the first defendant should be made. Among other things, the decision illustrates the policy of minimal curial intervention that the Australian courts follow where arbitration is concerned. It also confirms the arbitrability of certain claims under the Corporations Act 2001.


Austria

Contributed by Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtsanwälte GmbH
VIAC expands its jurisdiction
  • Austria
  • June 29 2017

The Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC) recently obtained the right to administer domestic cases. The new law has received a warm welcome in Austria and is another sign of the quality of the VIAC's work and the confidence in its services. The VIAC has already established a working group to implement the proposed changes into the Rules of Arbitration and Conciliation in order to reflect this positive development.

No foul play in arbitral award regarding football licensing
  • Austria
  • June 15 2017

The Supreme Court recently considered whether an arbitral award rendered in connection with licensing for the Austrian First Division Football League had to be set aside because of an alleged infringement of public policy. The decision is particularly interesting because the court had to tackle the sensitive issue of a possible infringement of substantive Austrian public policy in a situation where a party was forced to enter into an arbitration agreement with a dominant counterparty.

Supreme Court sets aside arbitral award for defective reasoning
  • Austria
  • January 19 2017

The Supreme Court recently considered if and under what circumstances defective reasoning of an arbitral award may lead to its annulment under the Arbitration Law. In a deviation from previous case law and views expressed by the majority of Austrian legal scholars, the court held that the requirement of sound reasoning is a fundamental principle of the Austrian legal system, and thus that an arbitrator's failure to comply with this constitutes a violation of procedural public policy.

Arbitrators beware! No such thing as a free lunch
  • Austria
  • August 25 2016

In a recent decision the Supreme Court considered whether a lunch attended by a sole arbitrator and a party's counsel could give rise to doubts regarding the arbitrator's impartiality and independence. This decision serves as a reminder that arbitrators should disclose all circumstances that could give rise to a challenge and proceed with the utmost care when a challenge has been dismissed.

Supreme Court strict on form but arbitration-friendly on refusal grounds under New York Convention
  • Austria
  • May 26 2016

The Supreme Court recently considered several formal objections under the New York Convention, as well as several alleged grounds for refusal. The court adopted a rather strict approach with regard to the authentication requirement under the convention, while reiterating that the convention should generally be interpreted in favour of the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards.


Brazil

Contributed by Carvalho, Machado e Timm Advogados
Arbitration in labour law
  • Brazil
  • November 30 2017

The recently approved labour reform allows arbitration in individual employment agreements, provided that the employee's monthly salary is twice as high as the cap on social security pensions and the arbitration clause is proposed or expressly agreed by the employee, according to the Arbitration Law. This means that employees with a higher level of education and income can now sign employment contracts for the settlement of any disputes through arbitration.

Court refuses recognition and enforcement of $100 million US arbitral awards
  • Brazil
  • November 02 2017

The full bench of the Superior Court of Justice recently refused the recognition and enforcement of two arbitral awards issued by an arbitral tribunal seated in New York under the International Chamber of Commerce Rules. This decision is historic and important for arbitration, as it is one of the rare cases in which the Superior Court of Justice failed to recognise a foreign arbitral award.

Competence-competence doctrine: an absolute principle?
  • Brazil
  • July 06 2017

The Sao Paulo State Court was recently faced with a dispute between the contracting parties to a franchise agreement. While the judge rapporteur recognised that the Brazilian legal system provides for competence-competence as a general rule, given the circumstances of this case, he declared the arbitration clause in the relevant franchise agreement to be null.

Superior Court of Justice suspends execution lawsuit and declares arbitral tribunal competent
  • Brazil
  • May 18 2017

The Superior Court of Justice recently issued an important decision that not only demonstrates the level of sophistication reached by the superior courts in relation to arbitration, but also the prestige that arbitration has achieved in the country as a dispute resolution method which has a jurisdictional characteristic. The decision is critical for the development of arbitration in Brazil, since it reinforces the state courts' position in favour of arbitration.

Arbitration and corporate law in Brazil: a debate resurfaces
  • Brazil
  • February 09 2017

December 14 2016 is already being considered 'D-day' with regard to arbitration and corporate law, as before the Brazilian judiciary's court recess, two important precedents were set on the subject. Questions still exist regarding whether these precedents are conflicting and only time and the likely debates following these decisions will be able to resolve them. However, one thing is certain: the judiciary's final decisions in 2016 are likely to cause intense discussions in 2017.


British Virgin Islands

Arbitration agreements and insolvency proceedings
  • British Virgin Islands
  • February 11 2016

Two recent decisions examined attempts by debtors to rely on the mandatory stay provisions in the BVI arbitration legislation in order to avoid liquidation. On both occasions the court came down decisively against the debtors, which were unable to show a substantive dispute to the debt. The decisions have brought clarity to the situation and closed the door on a potentially abusive practice.


Canada

Contributed by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Stay out of it – sophisticated parties can contract out of arbitration legislation
  • Canada
  • November 30 2017

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador recently dismissed an application by the province under Sections 14 and 34(2)(a)(iii) of the Arbitration Act. The court held that the parties had legally contracted out of the act, narrowing the circumstances in which a court could set aside an arbitral award. The decision furthers the general theme of recent Canadian jurisprudence, which has emphasised party autonomy and deference to reasonable arbitral decisions.

Justin Bieber tweets and an international arbitrator listens: court refers defamation claim to arbitration
  • Canada
  • June 22 2017

The Quebec Superior Court recently held that a party promoter's claims of defamation and breach of contract against Justin Bieber were subject to an arbitration clause entered into between the promoter and the pop star's agent. The decision sets out the factors that Canadian courts will consider when deciding whether a sufficient agency relationship exists in order to bind a third party to an arbitration agreement.

Ontario court recognises arbitral award and confirms narrow scope of public policy defence
  • Canada
  • February 23 2017

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently issued another decision in the ongoing saga on the enforcement of arbitral awards against the Kyrgyz Republic by various arbitral creditors. Consistent with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law and previous case law, the decision confirms that only the most egregious circumstances will warrant a refusal to recognise an arbitral award for public policy reasons.

Court of appeal gets to the right result – but for the wrong reasons
  • Canada
  • December 01 2016

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently confirmed a decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice staying an action commenced by Novatrax International Inc against a German company with which it had contracted, on the basis of a commitment to arbitrate in the contract. The court characterised the arbitration agreement as a 'forum selection clause' and applied a conflicts of law analysis based on forum non conveniens.

Ontario court confirms narrow grounds for setting aside NAFTA award
  • Canada
  • September 15 2016

In a recent decision dismissing a petition to set aside an arbitral award, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice affirmed Canada's commitment to the arbitral process as a final, binding method of dispute resolution, and reiterated the limited ability of arbitral debtors to set aside an award under Section 34(2) of the Commercial Arbitration Code.