Africa's economic growth has historically been linked to the fluctuation of commodity prices and it supplies significant amounts of minerals in global demand. Against this background, some states and state-owned counterparts of mining investors in Africa have taken a series of measures perceived by investors as an attempt to force them to renegotiate their long-term agreements. This has led to an increase in disputes concerning legislative changes, joint venture agreements and environmental issues.
The Supreme Court recently dealt with the challenge of an arbitrator on the grounds that he had rolled his eyes during the pleading of a party's representative. Said arbitrator did not explicitly contest the accusation of having rolled his eyes. Nonetheless, he claimed to be able to objectively give a legal assessment of the facts of the case. This decision adds to the case law on the impartiality and independence of arbitrators, particularly with respect to an allegation of bias based on non-verbal reactions.
The Supreme Court recently determined the admissibility of conducting an arbitral hearing by means of a videoconference in the context of challenge proceedings. The court held that even where one party opposes, ordering a remote hearing in arbitration is admissible and does not constitute a reason to challenge the arbitral tribunal. This decision must be regarded as a precedential landmark decision as it appears to be the first decision of any supreme court worldwide to tackle this issue.
Under longstanding Supreme Court case law, defective reasoning did not previously constitute a severe enough violation of procedural public policy to set aside an award. However, in recent years, the court has reversed this trend and repeatedly held that non-adherence to certain reasoning standards in arbitral awards can be a ground to set aside an award. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has provided further guidance on the required reasoning standards for awards.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether a final arbitral award on the reimbursement of costs violated Austrian public policy. The claimant had ultimately succeeded in the arbitration conducted under the rules of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. Nevertheless, the cost decision ordered it to reimburse the respondent's costs. The Supreme Court dismissed the claimant's request to set aside the cost decision.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether the fact that an arbitrator and a party counsel in one arbitration acted as co-counsel in another unrelated arbitration cast doubt on the arbitrator's independence and impartiality and thus disqualified him from acting as arbitrator in the arbitration under review. In its decision, the court correctly acknowledged the reality of the Austrian arbitration scene, which results in frequent contact between practitioners.
The Supreme Court recently clarified its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust-related arbitrations, ruling that it has no such jurisdiction to allow service outside an action's jurisdiction. Given this ruling, parties to trust arbitration agreements must be cognisant that, notwithstanding whether their trust deeds provide for the seat of any arbitration to be The Bahamas, the court can provide only limited assistance where the arbitration is not held and the parties or assets are not in The Bahamas.
Foreign arbitration is seen as an alternative method of dispute resolution that may be preferred to litigation. However, Belize case law has identified the difficulties that might be encountered by an award holder in attempting to enforce an award. It is also arguable that the option of foreign arbitration has been undermined by the passing of the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act and the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act 2017.
Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980 (1980 Ordinance), it has become somewhat outdated. However, the 1980 Ordinance assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the New York Convention into domestic law. This article looks at recent arbitration developments in the local courts, including cases concerning qualifications of or challenges to arbitrators and investor-state disputes.
Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980, it has become somewhat outdated. However, these amendments assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 into domestic law. In 2017 legislation was enacted that has directly affected the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Belize and abroad.
A recent Supreme Court judgment has once again confirmed Bermuda's status as a sophisticated, arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. It is a classic example of the Bermuda courts' robust approach when asked to enforce foreign arbitral awards against award debtors in Bermuda, even in circumstances where the award in question is being challenged by the award debtor in the courts of the seat, or legal place, of the arbitration.