The Arbitration Act 1979 did not wholly succeed in assuaging the fears of foreign users of English commercial arbitration. As Dr. Gillis Wetter warned, England remained on probation even after the abolition of the “Special Case” and challenge for “error on the face of the award.” Indeed, several foreign commentators warned that whilst the front door was now bolted to the dangers of the Special Case, the English Courts would find a new means to break down the back door. This was strongly denied by English judges and practitioners; and eventually the 1979 Act served out its probationary period. After ten years, even Messrs Craig, Park & Paulsson were able to report confidently in the second edition of their great work on ICC Arbitration (1990):
. . . recent English Court decisions provide every evidence that English judges will restrain abusive challenges to awards. The High Court has shown itself unwilling to let its residual power to set aside an award for “arbitrator misconduct” be used as an avenue for “backdoor” appeal of awards subject to an exclusion agreement.
By 1990, these recent English Court decisions represented a substantial body of case-law.
All this was soon proven utterly wrong. There followed the highly controversial decisions by the English Courts on remission for “procedural mishap” under Section 22 of the Arbitration Act 1950: King v. Thomas McKenna Ltd., Indian Oil Corp. v. Coastal (Bermuda) Ltd., and Breakbulk Marine v. Dateline.