Arbitration & ADR updates

Australia

Subpoenas in aid of arbitration
  • Australia
  • 02 August 2018

The Supreme Court of Victoria recently approved the issuance of subpoenas compelling two witnesses to attend before an arbitral tribunal seated in Melbourne and give evidence pursuant to Section 23 of the International Arbitration Act. The application arose out of a long-running dispute concerning the sale of a food business. The court's judgment provides useful guidance on the circumstances in which it will issue subpoenas in aid of arbitration as well as the meaning of Section 23(4) of the act.

No requirement to provide evidence or documents in foreign-seated arbitration
  • Australia
  • 09 November 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
  • 12 October 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
Counsel beware when submitting unspecified notices of arbitration
  • Austria
  • 19 July 2018

The Supreme Court recently considered whether a rather brief and general notice of arbitration in ad hoc proceedings containing a nomination had properly initiated the arbitration proceedings and was thus sufficient grounds to request the Supreme Court to appoint an arbitrator, following the respondents' refusal to nominate one. The decision is a soft reminder for counsel that sending out incomplete notices of arbitration or nomination requests can be a time-consuming and costly endeavour.

Vienna International Arbitral Centre issues new arbitration and mediation rules
  • Austria
  • 05 April 2018

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.

Supreme Court approves detour for setting aside proceedings
  • Austria
  • 21 December 2017

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.

VIAC expands its jurisdiction
  • Austria
  • 29 June 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
  • 15 June 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.


Brazil

Contributed by Carvalho, Machado e Timm Advogados
Superior Court of Justice recognises competence of arbitral tribunal in biggest recovery case
  • Brazil
  • 13 December 2018

The Superior Court of Justice recently confirmed the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal constituted before the Market Arbitration Chamber to render a decision connected to a company that had filed a lawsuit for a recovery plan before the competent court of law. In addition to taking a pro-arbitral stance on an important national case, this decision reinforces the jurisdictional nature of arbitration and solidifies the case law on conflicts of competence.

Superior Court of Justice rules on arbitration and piercing of corporate veil
  • Brazil
  • 25 October 2018

A recent Superior Court of Justice decision has broadened the interpretation of consent to an arbitration agreement to include economic groups, which could – by implication – pierce the corporate veil in such cases and extend arbitral jurisdiction to non-signatory parties. The decision sets a precedent for this issue and will serve as a parameter for future decisions by both the lower courts and the Superior Court of Justice.

Sao Paulo State Appellate Court decides on interpretation of Article 4(2) of Arbitration Act
  • Brazil
  • 27 September 2018

The Sao Paulo State Appellate Court recently rendered an important precedent on the interpretation of Article 4(2) of the Arbitration Act. The appellate court ultimately dismissed the franchisee's appeal, despite arguments that, among other things, the franchise agreement entered into by the parties was a contract by adhesion, pursuant to Article 54 of the Consumer Protection Code. As such, the arbitration clause was invalid because it did not follow the requirements contained in Article 4(2) of the Arbitration Act.

Superior Court of Justice rules on consequences of successful challenges to arbitral awards
  • Brazil
  • 13 September 2018

The Superior Court of Justice recently decided on the consequences of a successful application to set aside an arbitral award. The court's decision resulted from a declaration by the state courts that the nullity of arbitral awards is provided for in Article 33 of the Arbitration Act. Notably, this case was considered under the original version of the Arbitration Act (ie, before its 2015 amendment) due to the date on which the lawsuit had been filed.

Superior Court of Justice decides on pre-arbitral interim measure for production of expert evidence
  • Brazil
  • 12 April 2018

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.


British Virgin Islands

Court appoints receiver under Arbitration Act to preserve assets pending arbitration award
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 11 October 2018

A BVI court has appointed Grant Thornton as a receiver over a BVI company under Section 43 of the Arbitration Act 2013 in order to preserve the value of the company pending the determination of foreign arbitration proceedings. The decision illustrates the effectiveness of the interim relief provided under the Arbitration Act to preserve assets against which an arbitration award will be enforced.

Sixtieth anniversary of New York Convention – time to choose BVI arbitration and enforcement
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 05 July 2018

The British Virgin Islands is a pro-arbitration jurisdiction. Under the Arbitration Act, with regard to both New York Convention awards and non-New York Convention awards, the party against which the award has been made can make representation to the court regarding a refusal to enforce. An example of the British Virgin Islands' pro-enforcement approach can be seen in Belport Development Limited v Chimichanga Corporation.


Canada

Contributed by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Consolidation of arbitration proceedings without consent: cautionary tale
  • Canada
  • 06 December 2018

In a decision that is inconsistent with the weight of Canadian and international jurisprudence, the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta recently ordered the consolidation of arbitration proceedings without the consent of all parties. For now, parties and practitioners should be aware that arbitrations seated in Alberta may be subject to consolidation without consent.

Court clarifies when international arbitral awards become binding
  • Canada
  • 27 September 2018

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently interpreted when an international commercial arbitration award becomes binding on the parties for the purposes of judicial recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. It held that the determination of whether an award is binding pursuant to Articles 35 and 36 of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law rests with the court rather than the arbitral tribunal.

Quebec court consolidates law on third-party funding agreements: impact on commercial arbitration
  • Canada
  • 28 June 2018

Third-party funding in commercial arbitration in Canada has moved increasingly into the mainstream. Its implementation is largely influenced by the treatment of third-party funding in litigation, which is why it is important for arbitration practitioners in Canada to continue to follow jurisprudential trends regarding the treatment of third-party funding. A recent third-party litigation decision from Quebec provides valuable insight for arbitrators in this regard.

British Columbia aligns international commercial arbitration legislation with UNCITRAL Model Law 2006
  • Canada
  • 03 May 2018

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.

Appeal court refuses challenge to international arbitral award
  • Canada
  • 15 February 2018

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.