U.K. Supreme Court Clarifies Rules to Order Security As Condition to Challenge Arbitral Awards Enforcement Proceedings
On 1 March 2017, the U.K. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) found that an arbitral award debtor should not be required to pay USD 100 million in security as a pre-condition to adjourn the enforcement of the arbitral award until a decision is taken on the annulment of the award.
The Supreme Court’s decision was issued in proceedings between Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and IPCO (Nigeria) Ltd (IPCO). The latter was awarded USD 152 million following arbitration proceedings seated in Nigeria. NNPC sought to set aside the award before the Nigerian courts initially on jurisdictional grounds and, from 2009 onwards, on allegations of fraud.
Meanwhile IPCO sought the enforcement of the arbitration award before the U.K. Commercial Court. This was granted on an ex parte basis, but was soon challenged by NNPC which sought to have the enforcement order set aside or adjourned, in light of NNPC’s ongoing challenge against the award in Nigeria. In response, the U.K. Commercial Court agreed to adjourn the enforcement order under section 103(5) of the U.K. Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act). This provision allows a court before which an enforcement action is pending to adjourn its decision pending the decision on the setting aside or suspension of the award at the seat of arbitration. In this case, however, the Commercial Court subjected the adjournment of the order to the payment of security worth USD 50 million, later increased to USD 80 million in 2008.READ MORE