John Habergham, Myton Law, Hull U.K.

Ref: Selevision Saudi Company v Bein Media Group LLC

This recent decision of the Commercial Court will be of interest to those who are involved in international arbitration.  It is another judgment which evidences the English law approach to arbitration, supporting the primacy and autonomy of the arbitral process.

Selevision had obtained an arbitration award in Dubai.  It sought to enforce that award in this jurisdiction.  In this regard, the Arbitration Act 1996 broadly reflects the provisions of the New York Convention.

As is fairly typical in these circumstances, the defendant sought to stay the enforcement of that award and sought permission to bring a proposed counterclaim and bring an additional claim.

English procedural law caters for the bringing of counterclaims and additional claims so that all matters in dispute between all the relevant parties are resolved at the same time before the same forum – convenience and costs are the yardstick.

But the court refused the defendant’s application.  Although the court accepted that the procedural rules were not ideally drafted, and there was some uncertainty, it was of the view that the claim/additional claims procedure was not imported into the provision dealing with arbitration claims.  The court did this largely on the grounds that to do so would risk derailing the enforcement of a New York Convention award which is supposed to be a streamlined process.

In passing, the court found that if it was wrong in not importing mainstream procedure into the arbitration procedure, then it would not have given permission for the counterclaim to proceed in any event on the basis that it was not sufficiently connected with the claim which was being sought enforced.

And, having found that there was no counterclaim, the application for a stay fell away but the court went further and said it wouldn’t have granted the stay in any event – this was on the basis that the court should rarely interfere with the enforcement of a New York Convention award.

So, the short message is – if you choose to arbitrate and you don’t like the outcome, don’t think that you can run to the English courts to have a re-run, because English law supports the agreement to resolve any differences outside the court process.