HFW secures rare Court of Appeal Enforcement of Chinese Arbitral Award
Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has secured a major win in the English Court of Appeal, which has upheld the enforcement of a significant Chinese arbitration award in favour of the firm's client, despite claims that it was "tainted" by fraud.
HFW's client, Chinese steel trading company Sinocore International Co Ltd, had agreed to sell $1.2 million of rolled steel coils to RBRG Trading (UK) Ltd in 2010.
But the deal broke down after it emerged that Sinocore had forged the bills of lading – a key shipping document that is required to transport goods. Sinocore changed the shipment dates on the bills in order to comply with amendments RBRG had made to the letter of credit without Sinocore's consent.
Sinocore and RBRG both initiated damages claims for breach of contract in CIETAC arbitration proceedings. The CIETAC tribunal found for Sinocore and ordered RBRG to pay damages of US$4,857,500, plus costs.
Sinocore then applied to the English High Court to enforce the award. (China and the UK are both parties to the New York Convention, which requires courts of contracting states to recognise and enforce arbitration awards made in other contracting states.)
RBRG challenged the enforceability of the award, arguing that it would be contrary to public policy for the Court to enforce an award that was "tainted" by fraud.
The High Court dismissed RBRG's challenge, recognising that the CIETAC tribunal had already considered – and rejected – this argument.
Following a one-day hearing on 27 March, that ruling has now been unanimously upheld by the Court of Appeal in a judgment handed down on 23 April.
The Court concluded that: "In enforcing the Award the court is not allowing its process to be used by a dishonest person to carry out a fraud. In the event, there was no fraud; only an attempt at fraud. There is no public policy to refuse to enforce an award based on a contract during the course of the performance of which there has been a failed attempt at fraud."
HFW commodities partner Brian Perrott:
"We are very pleased that our client's long judicial road to enforcement and satisfaction is finally coming to an end. We are sure that this decision will also be welcomed in China.
"This is quite possibly the first time that the Court of Appeal has ever had to deal with the issue of enforcing a Chinese arbitration award. This judgment confirms the robust pro-enforcement stance of the English court towards arbitration awards, and serves as a timely reminder, given the spectre of Brexit, of why the UK remains such a popular destination for international dispute resolution."
The HFW team was led by commodities partner Brian Perrott, and associates Marie-Anne Boothroyd and Prashant Kukadia. HFW instructed Nick Vineall QC and Neil Henderson of 4 Pump Court.
RBRG was represented by Neil Calver QC and Tom Pascoe of Brick Court Chambers, who were instructed by King & Spalding.
HFW is a leading global law firm in the aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance and shipping sectors. The firm has almost 600 fee-earners, including 180 partners, based in 18 offices across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. We take a progressive approach to our roles in commercial business – thinking creatively and pragmatically to support our clients. HFW prides itself on its deep industry expertise and its entrepreneurial, creative and collaborative culture.
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夏礼文的客户，中国钢贸公司Sinocore International Co Ltd，于2010年同意出售120万美元的轧制钢卷给RBRG Trading (UK) Ltd
夏礼文团队由商品部合作人Brian Perrott以及Marie-Anne Boothroyd律师和Prashant Kukadia律师领导。夏礼文指示4 Pump Court的Nick Vineall QC和Neil Henderson作为出庭律师。
RBRG由Brick Court Chambers的Neil Calver QC和Tom Pascoe代理，他们受King & Spalding律师事务所的指示。
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