No Requirement to Dispense with Leave to Appeal Arbitral Award Under Section 69

Royal & Sun Alliance Ins. PLC v. BAE Sys. (Operations) Ltd., 2008 WL 924979, [2008] EWHC 743 (Queen’s Bench Div., Commercial Ct.)

An arbitral award pursuant to the arbitration under LCIA rules of an insurance dispute formed the subject matter of this claim.  Royal & Sun sought to appeal the award to the English court on a point of law.  The defendants argued that s.69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the “Act”) and the terms of the relevant arbitration agreement obliged Royal & Sun to seek the leave of the court.  The question was settled in Royal & Sun’s favour as a pure question of construction involving consideration of the Act, the LCIA rules and the arbitration agreement.

Unless excluded by the parties, s.69 of the Act permits appeal on a point of law either where the parties agree that such an appeal should lie, or where the court permits it in the absence of such agreement.  By Article 26 of the LCIA rules, parties to LCIA arbitrations waive their right to appeal.  However the LCIA rules were incorporated into the arbitration agreement subject to clause 5 of the said agreement; and clause 5 permitted appeal to the court on a question of law.  The point in issue was whether s.69 required an agreement of the parties permitting an appeal, or an agreement of the parties to dispense with the requirement to seek leave of the court.  The court found firmly in favour of a construction of the clear language of the Act on ordinary principles, holding that s.69 could not be held to require an agreement between the parties to dispense with the requirement to seek leave of the court.

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