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Party not under a duty to correct another Party's misunderstanding of its Case

In CIM v CIN [2021] SGHC 75, the Singapore High Court held that there is no duty for a party to correct an opponent's incorrect understanding of its case in an arbitration.

CIM, the respondent in the arbitration to set aside an arbitral award partly because CIN's counsel did not correct its misunderstanding of CIN's case expressed during the hearing, wherein CIN made vague references to a certain argument in its written submissions. When CIM's counsel stated her understanding of the argument, which was wrong, the opponent counsel did not correct her but made the argument plainly in final written submissions, which the tribunal accepted. CIM later applied to set aside the award, claiming that it was denied procedural fairness by not being properly informed of its opponent's case.

The court disagreed and held that the loser's failure to appreciate the argument was of its own doing. The court had the following to say:

  • A party should invite the tribunal to seek a formal confirmation or clarification of another party's position.

  • It would be burdensome for a party to read the mind of the opponent and find that there was a genuine misunderstanding of its case.

  • A duty of intervention and correction should not be imposed on a party because not every expression of misunderstanding can be taken at face value.

  • Parties are responsible for arguing their own case, not for ensuring that the other side meets their case.

This decision serves as a reminder for parties to be alert against any vague submissions. In the event of any doubt, the party should formally ask for clarification from their opponent, to prevent any further misunderstandings.

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