If you went to an arbitration proceeding and the arbitrator ruled against you, you may wonder if you can get the arbitration award overturned. There are a few specific circumstances when Bahamian courts will consider overturning arbitration awards.
When an arbitrator makes an award at the end of an arbitration proceeding, the award does not have the same effect as a court judgment. Arbitration is more informal than court, and arbitrators do not have the same legal powers as judges. Usually, the winning party in an arbitration will ask a court to recognize the award and enforce it against the losing party.
The losing party can ask the court to overturn the arbitration award for:
- Lack of jurisdiction; or
- Serious irregularities affecting the tribunal, the proceedings, or the award.
“Serious irregularities” that could be raised include:
- The arbitrator exceeding his or her powers;
- The arbitrator failing to follow the procedure agreed upon by the parties;
- The arbitrator failing to resolve all issues posed by the parties;
- Uncertainty or ambiguity as to the award's effect;
- The award being obtained by fraud or being contrary to public policy; or
- Failure to comply with the requirements as to the form of the award.
(Arbitration Act 2009, Section 88-91.) In addition, the parties can ask the court to decide a point of law affecting the arbitration award. The parties may disagree about how the arbitrator interpreted a legal case or principle and want a judge to make the decision.
If the court agrees that the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction or that there were serious irregularities, the judge has a few options. For lack of jurisdiction, the judge can confirm the award, vary the award; or set aside (overturn) all or part of the award. For serious irregularities, the judge can send all or part of the award back to the arbitrator for reconsideration, set all or part of the award aside; or declare all or part of the award to be of no effect. (Arbitration Act 2009, Section 88-91.)
Although there are a few reasons why a court might overturn an arbitration award against you, winning this kind of court case is difficult. If you have concerns about an upcoming or ongoing arbitration before the award is made, engage legal counsel for advice on proceeding with your case. An arbitration award against you can be enforced in court.
To find out more about arbitration, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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