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High Court addressed the practical application of principles regarding the setting aside of an arbitral award in Singapore

In the case of  CEF and another v CEH [2021] SGHC 114, the Singapore High Court dismissed an application to set aside an award and refused to expand the rules of natural justice.

The Plaintiffs applied to the Court to set aside the orders granted by the arbitral tribunal on four main grounds:
1.    The arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the parties’ agreement or Article 34(2)(a)(iv) of           the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”).

2.    The award decided matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration (Article 34(2)(a)(iii)           of the Model Law).

3.    There was a breach of natural justice in connection with the making of the award under section             24(b) of the International Arbitration Act (Cap. 143A).

4.    The plaintiffs were unable to present their case on essential issues in the arbitration (Article 34(2)           (a)(ii) of the Model Law).

The High Court disagreed with the Plaintiff, stating inter alia that: 
1.     The Plaintiff’s application was misconceived - Article 34(2)(a)(iv) of the Model Law does not apply          to the substance of the award; it goes to whether the tribunal had failed to adhere to an               
        arbitral procedure.

2.     An “unenforceable” and “unworkable” award does not warrant a setting aside under Article 34(2)            (a)(iv).

3.     An issue which emerges during the arbitration and which is known to all the parties is within the            scope of the submission to arbitration, even if it is not part of any list of issues.

The principles of setting aside awards are well established in Singapore and evidently not many succeed in such application. This decision affirms the Singapore pro-arbitration stance and the policy of minimal curial intervention in arbitration proceedings.

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