The New York Convention provides for the enforcement of international arbitral awards. The courts in England and Wales consistently take a “pro-enforcement approach” in applications for refusal of recognition and enforcement of such awards. Applications under the Arbitration Act 1996 have a high threshold to pass if the award is not to be recognised or enforced implementing the defined and exhaustive grounds contained in NYC Article V. Domestic courts of Contracting States have developed and adopted an analytical approach to challenges by award debtors using tactical arguments, perhaps sometimes to delay enforcement. This article looks at recent case law confirming the approach of the English courts in taking a firm line and the detailed scrutiny that will be applied when faced with applications for refusal of recognition and enforcement. It also looks at the public policy arguments behind that and whether there can be said to be a “bias” or simply whether the courts take a strict, principled approach, recognising an Award Creditor’s prima facie right to recognition and enforcement of the International Award.
As is well known, there are restricted grounds upon which an enforcing Court can refuse recognition and enforcement of an international arbitration award. Article V of the New York Convention enumerates five separate grounds on which recognition and enforcement of a Convention Award may be refused at the instance of the party against whom it is made – i.e. the “award debtor”.