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Westacre Investments Inc. -v- Jugoimport SDPR Holding Company Ltd and others

12th May 1999

[2000] QB 288

Jonathan Gaisman Q.C. and Stephen Kenny acted for the Defendants (the former Yugoslav military sales and procurement agency) on the instructions of Holman Fenwick & Willan. This arms trading case raised the issue of whether enforcement of a Swiss arbitration award would be contrary to English public policy (Arbitration Act 1975, Section 5(3)). The Defendants maintained that the underlying contract was to procure influence over, or to pay bribes to, Kuwaiti government officials. The Court of Appeal (by a majority) held that even if this was so, and even if the award had been obtained by fraud, it would still be enforced where the Defendants had had an opportunity of putting these matters before the Swiss arbitral tribunal. A Petition for leave to appeal to the House of Lords was rejected: [1999] 1 WLR 1999.

Arbitration – Award – Enforcement – Consultancy contract relating to sale of military equipment – Contract containing arbitration clause – Plaintiffs’ claim under contract referred to arbitration in Switzerland – Defendants claiming contract illegal and enforcement contrary to public policy – Arbitrators’ award in plaintiffs’ favour upheld by Swiss supervisory court – Proceedings in England to enforce award – Defendants resisting enforcement on grounds of public policy and contending award obtained by perjured evidence – Whether evidence of perjury to be admitted in enforcement proceedings – Whether award to be enforced