Grounds For Resisting The Recognition And Enforcement Of Arbitration Awards Under The New York Convention.
The grounds for resisting the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards under the New York Convention are often poorly explained. The New York Convention, which governs the recognition of foreign arbitration awards in 150 countries, imposes a mandatory rule that obliges States that are Parties to the New York Convention to recognize and enforce foreign arbitral in Article III of the Convention, indicating that “[e]ach Contracting State shall recognize arbitral awards as binding.”
There are thus no appeals of arbitral awards. There are nevertheless eight grounds for resisting the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award under the New York Convention, which are found in Articles V and VI of the Convention. These grounds are summarized below.
1. There was no valid arbitration agreement.
Article V(1)(a) provides that recognition may be refused when “[t]he parties to the agreement referred to in article II were, under the law applicable to them, under some incapacity, or the said agreement is not valid under the law to which the parties have subjected it or, failing any indication thereon, under the law of the country where the award was made… .“
Examples: The arbitration agreement was forged, one of the signatories of the arbitration agreement lacked the capacity sign an award.
2. There were serious procedural irregularities in the arbitration.
Under Article V(1)(b) recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused when “[t]he party against whom the award is invoked was not given proper notice of the appointment of the arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present his case… .”
Article V(1)(d) also provides that recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused when “[t]he composition of the arbitral authority or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties, or, failing such agreement, was not in accordance with the law of the country where the arbitration took place… .“
Examples: A party was not notified of the arbitration. Evidence was unfairly excluded during the arbitration, or a party was not allowed to present his or her case due the unfair scheduling of hearings or submissions. The arbitral tribunal was improperly constituted, or the procedure agreed upon between the parties was not used in the arbitration.
3. The arbitral tribunal ruled in excess of its jurisdiction.
Under Article V(1)(c) recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused when “[t]he award deals with a difference not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration, or it contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration, provided that, if the decisions on matters submitted to arbitration can be separated from those not so submitted, that part of the award which contains decisions on matters submitted to arbitration may be recognized and enforced… .”
Examples: The arbitral tribunal ruled on a question that the parties did not ask it, or it granted relief that was not requested by the Parties.
4. The arbitral tribunal was biased.
This ground for refusing the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards is read into Articles V(1)(b), V(1)(d) and V(2)(b) of the New York Convention.
Examples: There was no equal treatment of the Parties. The arbitral tribunal was clearly partial. The arbitral tribunal lacked independence from one of the Parties.
5. The arbitration award was not “binding”.
Recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused under Article V(1)(e) when “[t]he award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been set aside or suspended by a competent authority of the country in which, or under the law of which, that award was made.”
Examples: As arbitration awards can be appealed before the courts of some countries, the arbitration award might not be binding in such a country. An interim award also might be not to be binding.
6. The subject matter of the dispute was non-arbitrable.
Recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused under Article V(2)(a) when “[t]he subject matter of the difference is not capable of settlement by arbitration under the law of that country… .”
Examples: Although this depends on the law of arbitration, in certain countries issues of bankruptcy, competition law or consumer claims are not arbitrable, meaning that arbitrators do not have the right to rule on them.
7. The public policy of the state was violated by the arbitration award.
Recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may be refused under Article V(2)(b) when “[t]he recognition or enforcement of the award would be contrary to the public policy of that country.“
Examples: An award ruling on a contract to pay for terrorist activities could be refused recognition under public policy.
8. The award was annulled at the seat of arbitration.
Recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards may also be refused under Article VI(2)(b) “[i]f an application for the setting aside or suspension of the award has been made to a competent authority referred to in article V(1)(e)… .“
Examples: A foreign court annuls an arbitration award where the arbitration had its legal seat, but the Party seeks the recognition and enforcement of the award in another country. This rule is not always followed in practice: court decisions in France, Belgium, Austria and the United States have all held that an award may be recognized by foreign courts even when the award has been annulled in the seat of arbitration.
Other than these challenges, arbitration awards cannot be refused recognition and enforcement, making it typically far easier to enforce an arbitration award than a foreign court judgment.