Enforcing arbitral awards in England & Wales
12 December 2017
Where a party has obtained a favourable arbitration award in a jurisdiction other than England and Wales and the respondent to those arbitration proceedings has assets in this jurisdiction, the successful party may wish to enforce the arbitration award here. This guide will consider the steps that the successful party must take in order to be able to do so.
The international framework
The UK (which comprises, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) is a party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (“the New York Convention”) and as a result will recognize and enforce awards made in other contracting states. Given the number of signatory nations to the New York Convention, in most instances the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards will be governed by the New York Convention. As a result and while there are other ways to enforce foreign arbitral awards apart from the New York Convention, this guide will deal solely with enforcement under the New York Convention.
While in most instances an arbitral award is final and binding on the parties, an arbitral award is incapable of direct enforcement. As a result, it is necessary to enlist the assistance of the court of the country in which the award is to be enforced. The aim of the New York Convention is to provide a common framework which all signatory countries must adopt when deciding whether to enforce a foreign arbitral award. The New York Convention allows foreign arbitral awards to be enforced with some amount of ease in the court of another signatory state.
The law governing arbitrations in England and Wales
The Arbitration Act 1996 (the “Act”) regulates matters relating to arbitrations which arise in England and Wales, whether or not the seat (place) of the arbitration is in England. So if a party wishes to enforce a foreign arbitral award in England and Wales, they need to have regard to the Act. The Act gives effect to and implements the New York Convention.
So how can a successful party enforce in England and Wales an arbitration award made in another jurisdiction? Alternatively, how can a respondent seek to resist the enforcement of a foreign arbitral award in England and Wales?
For the purposes of this guide it is assumed that the party seeking to enforce the award was the claimant in the arbitration and so the party against whom the award is being enforced is the respondent.