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.
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.
The new Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC) Rules of Arbitration and Mediation recently entered into force. They apply to all arbitration and mediation proceedings initiated after December 31 2017. The amendments to the VIAC rules allow for parties to conduct efficient and cost-effective arbitration and mediation proceedings, while offering enough flexibility when applying them in individual cases.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether proceedings (wrongly) commenced before an Austrian district court to set aside an arbitral award could nevertheless be continued. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court's exclusive jurisdiction regarding the setting aside of arbitral awards, the unusual facts of the case at hand led to the creation of an additional channel of appeals not provided for in the law.
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.
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.
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.
The Superior Court of Justice recently held that an arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction to (re)assess a pre-arbitral interim measure relating to an agreement containing an arbitration clause that was previously filed before the judiciary as soon as it is constituted. The controversy brought before the court concerned a recurring issue in the field of arbitration: the intersections between state courts and arbitral tribunals, especially when dealing with the establishment of competent jurisdiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
British Columbia recently introduced amendments to its International Commercial Arbitration Act. The proposed amendments are intended to modernise British Columbia's international arbitration legislation and align it with accepted international standards. In so doing, the government hopes to position Vancouver as a more desirable location to host international commercial arbitration proceedings.
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision has affirmed the favourable Canadian approach to the enforcement of international arbitration awards under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law. The court of appeal's restraint when asked to set aside and refuse to enforce an international arbitral award is consistent with recent cases, which have upheld the narrow circumstances in which courts can do so.
The Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta recently applied the principle of competence-competence in the context of a parallel litigation and arbitration dispute resolution procedure. As parallel dispute resolution procedures give rise to a complex interplay between the jurisdiction of the courts and arbitral tribunals, the case is an excellent example of the practical application of the principle and can serve as a useful tool for both domestic and international arbitration practitioners.
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.
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.
As with any other contract, general rules of interpretation are crucial to ascertain the scope and reach of arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court recently missed the chance to provide a sharper and more sophisticated decision concerning the applicable legal rules of interpretation of arbitration agreements, which is a crucial matter for the uniform enforcement of international commercial arbitration agreements.
The autonomy of parties to agree on an arbitral procedure is a basic principle of international commercial arbitration. However, parties occasionally try to deny the recognition of awards issued according to agreed rules, claiming that they are unfair or contrary to due process. A recent Supreme Court case on this matter helps to circumscribe the concept of 'proper notice' and protects parties' procedural autonomy, which will ensure the continuing development of international commercial arbitration.
In international commercial arbitration, parties sometimes try to apply domestic civil procedural rules and argue that arbitral awards made in violation of these rules should be vacated for being contrary to public policy. However, a recent court decision shows that public policy cannot be assimilated with every procedural rule and requirement applicable to domestic litigation, and should thus deter future parties from trying to vacate arbitral awards by invoking possible conflict with the Civil Procedure Code.