What Now for Article 16(3)? - EIAR - Volume 2 - Issue 2
Originally from European International Arbitration Review
On 31 October 2013 the Singapore Court of Appeal delivered its decision, PT First Media TBK v Astro Nusantara International BV and others  SGCA 57, in the long-running dispute between the Astro Group, a Malaysian media group, and the Lippo Group, an Indonesian conglomerate. The decision concerned the enforcement of arbitral awards that were rendered in Singapore, a Model Law jurisdiction, in which the International Arbitration Act (“IAA”)2 gives force to the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law”).3
The Singapore Court of Appeal provided a detailed analysis of the Model Law and its travaux préparatoires, regarding the ability of a party to oppose enforcement of an arbitral award on the grounds of the tribunal’s alleged lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the Court of Appeal considered the circumstances where that party did not challenge the tribunal’s preliminary determination even though it was entitled to under Article 16(3) of the Model Law. In reaching their decision, the Court of Appeal identified the policy of “choice of remedies” as being central to the Model Law. Under this interpretation, the parties are free either to make an active challenge by seeking judicial review or by seeking to set aside an award, or to invoke a passive remedy by requesting an award to be refused only in response to enforcement proceedings.
This article first outlines in Section II the background to the arbitration and the subsequent enforcement proceedings. Section III examines the Court of Appeal’s decision and its references to the travaux préparatoires, focusing particularly on the interpretation of the Model Law and the “choice of remedies” policy. The article in Section IV concludes with a discussion regarding the practical implications of the decision.