International arbitration - Review of 2023

3 minute read
15 February 2024

Image showing the international arbitration - review of 2023 report front coverThe last year has seen some big developments in international arbitration - for Gowling WLG, and in general.

The year has presented a wealth of arbitration-related decisions playing out under the supervisory jurisdiction of national courts. For this review, our practitioners have selected a handful of the most interesting and instructive decisions from their jurisdictions in the last year. They cover a wide range of important procedural issues, ranging from the start to finish of the arbitration process – from the extent of the doctrine of separability of an arbitration agreement, via the availability (or not) of anti-suit injunctions to restrain proceedings brought in breach of an arbitration agreement, to challenges to awards (some successful, others not) and consideration of whether or not national courts should enforce awards. The cases reveal common themes that arise across arbitrations regardless of seat, and insights as to how different jurisdictions deal with similar issues.

There is one other decision which merits mention – the much publicised judgment of the UK Commercial Court in Nigeria v Process & Industrial Developments Limited, under which Mr Justice Robin Knowles set aside enforcement of an award for $11 billion which had been obtained by fraud. The case has an extreme fact pattern, and in our view has limited lessons for in-house counsel, and so does not feature as a standalone case report in this review. Some readers might question though, in light of comments made in that judgment, the integrity and suitability of arbitration as a forum for dispute resolution.

The judgment has, as the judge hoped, provoked "debate and refection among the arbitration community", internationally. However, while the judgment exposes concerns in relation to certain aspects of the arbitral process, more hopefully it also demonstrates the effective functioning of the arbitration system – where national courts apply their supervisory powers to intervene where necessary and proportionate, while otherwise respecting party autonomy and allowing the process to run unhindered.

This year in Canada Gowling WLG has promoted arbitration practitioners James Plotkin and Aweis Osman to partner. Meanwhile in Europe it has strengthened its existing expertise with the addition of new international arbitration partners Marie-Aude Ziadé in France and Mathias Wittinghofer in Germany. Each brings with them a wealth of experience both as arbitrator and as arbitration counsel, and is a great addition to our international practice.

Download our International Arbitration - Review of 2023.

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