The Arbitral Award - Chapter 23
Bernardo Cremades is President of the Spanish Court of Arbitration and Chair of the Global Center For Dispute Resolution Research launched by the American Arbitration Association. He is also Co-Chair of the Arbitration Committee of the International Bar Association and a Vice President of the London Court of International Arbitration. He has participated as an attorney, arbitrator or President of the Arbitral Tribunals in more than 150 arbitral proceedings worldwide.
The role of an arbitrator is to resolve disputes which the parties have agreed to submit to arbitration. The decisions of the arbitrator require a document subject to certain formalities, and known as the arbitral award. The content and form of an arbitral award, and the discretion enjoyed by arbitrators in making an award will necessarily vary according to the procedural law applicable to the arbitral procedure (lex arbitri), the powers conferred by the parties upon the arbitrator under the applicable arbitration agreement, and the specific form of arbitration used.
There is no internationally accepted definition of “arbitral award,” but the characterisation of any given decision as an arbitral award is nevertheless of great practical significance, since only arbitral awards are covered by international conventions governing recognition and enforcement of awards. Similarly, only an arbitral award may be the subject of an action for annulment or recognition and enforcement.
When it comes to identifying an arbitral award, and isolating an award from other types of decisions, it is not the terminology that identifies an arbitral award but rather the nature of the decision per se. The inclusion or omission of elements such as the arbitrators’ names, their signatures or the date, should properly be irrelevant insofar as defining the concept is concerned, although such formalities may well affect the arbitral award once it has been identified as such by virtue of its nature and content.
Accordingly, an arbitral award could be defined as the final and binding decision made by a sole arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal, which resolves, wholly or in part, the dispute submitted to his/its jurisdiction.