【典型案例】英国仲裁法下Serious Irregularity制度

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作者|李垒 史强

来源|伯宁律师事务所



摘要:


英国仲裁法虽存在仲裁的上诉制度,但实践中上诉成功的案例并不多。而在这些成功的案例中,以”Serious Irregularity(严重失常)”为理由而成功上诉的案例则更为鲜见。本案中英国高等法院认定,仲裁裁决中有部分内容并非任何一方当事人的主张,而是仲裁庭创设的一种解决思路,但仲裁庭并未给当事人提供表达意见的机会。进而英国高等法院认定,该案仲裁存在严重失常,并对仲裁中的申请人造成Substantial Injustice(实质不公),因此法院准许了申请人的上诉请求。


该案中涉及的英国高等法院对严重失常和实质不公的认定等问题,值得关注。


一、引言


  通常认为仲裁是“一裁终局”的争议解决方式,即仲裁裁决作出后立即生效而不能向法院上诉。世界上大多数国家也均认可仲裁的一裁终局,但英国仲裁法下存在对仲裁裁决的上诉制度。


  英国1996年《仲裁法》规定了三种允许对仲裁裁决提起上诉的情况:(1)仲裁庭缺乏实体管辖权(substantive jurisdiction)(第67条);(2)仲裁庭,仲裁程序,或仲裁裁决存在严重失常的情况(第68条)[1];(3)仲裁庭对仲裁裁决中所涉及的法律问题认定不准确(第69条)。前两种撤裁的情况适用于程序上的瑕疵,而第三种情况适用于实体方面,即法律问题。虽有上述规定,但实践中成功上诉的案件并不多[2]。成功上诉的案件中,也多是基于法律问题(即第69条)[3],基于第67条和第68条而成功上诉的案例更是少之又少。笔者曾看到不少判例中记载当事人尝试以第68条严重失常的规定提起上诉,但最终以失败告终。究其原因是英国法院不愿意干涉仲裁庭的权利,法院的一系列判例在不断重复法院相同的态度,即,仅在极端情况下才能依据第68条的严重失常而批准上诉。因此,该条款可能被许多当事人认为只是英国仲裁法的一个摆设而已。


  但英国高等法院(England and Wales High Court)关于The Ocean Glory[4]一案的判决,支持了申请人基于严重失常而对仲裁裁决所提出的上诉。Eder法官在该案中阐述了依据严重失常而提起上诉的条件和英国法院对仲裁裁决上诉的态度,值得思考。


二、The Ocean Glory 一案的背景情况


  Lorand Shipping Limited作为Ocean Glory轮的船东,于2013年5月13日以Gencon格式为基础与租家Davof Trading (Africa) B.V订立航次租船合同,装运一批动物饲料从象牙海岸(Ivory Coast)至摩洛哥。船舶航行过程中船舵丢失,后于2013年7月2日被拖轮拖带至目的港。卸货过程存在严重延误,货物直到2013年8月6日才完全卸完。收货人抱怨(complaints)[5]货物的状况。


  租约第27条约定[6],租约履行过程中产生的索赔均应在卸货完毕后的六个月内提起,否则视为弃权。英国法下,一般合同之诉的诉讼时效是自诉因产生之日起6年[7],但英国法下允许双方约定短于法律规定的诉讼时效,因为短时效更能促进法律关系的稳定[8]。虽然法院在时效方面有一定的自由裁量权,例如,英国1996年《仲裁法》第12条[9],但法院通常不会干涉合同双方的约定。因此,船东遵守本案合同中的短期时效对船东行使权利来讲至关重要,否则可能因此丧失胜诉权。


三、伦敦仲裁情况


  船东为保护时效,在卸货完毕后立即提起了针对租家的仲裁程序。仲裁过程中,收货人虽对货物表面状况有过抱怨,但并未正式索赔。因此,船东仅就滞期费提出了索赔,并提交了一份标题为“Claim Submissions for an Interim Award on Demurrage”(滞期费临时裁决的索赔申请),但船东在其索赔申请书第11段要求仲裁庭保留其管辖权,内容如下:


“The Claimants seek an Interim Award at this stage, for the claim for demurrage. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction is to be reserved for any and all claims against the Respondents, relating to any claim for damage to cargo, that may be brought against the Owners by the cargo receivers under the Bill of Lading and/or in respect of any and all damage suffered by the Vessel, by reason of the extended stay of the Vessel at the Port of Nador and/or the extended services of the Salvors under the LOF (due to the Charterers’ breach of the Charterparty) and in respect of which the Claimants will seek an indemnity from the Respondents at the appropriate time.”


  船东意图通过该段内容告知仲裁庭,船东有可能就货物损坏、船舶救助等问题向租家追偿,仲裁庭需要保留管辖权利。因为短期的时效限制,船东若在以上问题产生之后再启动仲裁,相信已经超出合同约定时效的限制。但Eder法官认为,该段措辞并不明确。”Reserve”(保留)是意味着船东已经提出了索赔,而要求仲裁庭保留裁判的权利。然而,事实上船东在仲裁裁决作出之前并没有提出除滞期费以外的索赔。[10]


  租家不同意船东的观点且不认为有任何的违约。租家希望仲裁庭做出最终裁决驳回船东的全部请求,或者仅仅支持船东就滞期费的索赔请求,但驳回船东的其他主张[11]


  此后,船东和租家仍有一轮书面意见交换[12]。经双方同意,本案未开庭审理。两位仲裁员组成的仲裁庭发布了标题为” Final Arbitration Award”(最终仲裁裁决)的裁决书。裁决书的第30段和第31段是本案的争议部分,船东仅就该部分提出了上诉:


“30. Given the length of time since the cargo was discharged and that the Owners’ provided no evidence that the cargo receivers / interests had or indeed intended to bring a claim against them under the Bill of Lading, we refuse their application.


31. In the event that the cargo receivers / interests do make a claim, doubtless the Owners will consider whether it is possible to start new arbitration proceedings against the Charterers. It follows that this award is not made on an interim basis, but is final in respect of the issues decided herein.”


  仲裁裁决第30段和31段措辞的效果是,仲裁庭对船东的其他可能的索赔请求没有保留管辖权,仲裁庭的任务结束(functus officio)。基于此,船东依据英国1996年《仲裁法》第68条规定向英国高等法院提出上诉。


四、英国高等法院的判决意见


  英国高等法院诉讼中,船东的主要观点包括:(1)根据英国1996年《仲裁法》第33条(1)(a)项规定,仲裁庭应给各方一个合理陈述意见的机会[13]。就仲裁庭赖以作出裁决的事项,当事方应有机会表达意见。船东的大律师引述了权威著作以及先例来支持其观点;(2)仲裁庭的裁决不符合任何一方的请求。本案中船东要求仲裁庭保留对其他争议的管辖权利,租家要求仲裁庭对所有的问题进行实质审理并就全部问题作出一次裁决。而且仲裁庭在依据自身创设的解决方案作出裁决之前,未向双方提示,双方均未能发表任何意见;(3)仲裁庭的行为构成严重失常,且该裁决剥夺了船东向租家追偿的权利,造成了实质不公。而实质不公的构成,只需要船东证明如果仲裁庭履行了《仲裁法》第33条规定的义务,双方充分表达意见后,而仲裁庭有改变判决的现实可能性即可。本案中,如果仲裁庭告知,则船东可以指出租约第27条将阻碍船东提起新的仲裁程序进而仲裁庭需要保留管辖权。仲裁庭很可能会支持船东的主张。


  租家大律师则主要认为,英国历来的法院判例显示,法院对构成《仲裁法》下严重失常以及实质不公均设定了较高的门槛[14]。租家大律师主要依赖Tomlinson 法官在ABB AG v Hochtief Airport GmbH [2006] EWHC 388 (Comm); [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1案中的判决意见,其认为在本案中仲裁庭不存在严重失常,即使存在也未对租家造成任何实质不公。


  Eder法官的立场包括:(1)他同意依据《仲裁法》第68条对裁决进行上诉的标准很高,其也完全认同Tomlinson 法官在ABB AG v Hochtief Airport GmbH [2006] EWHC 388 (Comm); [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1案中的观点;(2)如果仲裁庭希望采取一个双方当事人都未提及的方式裁决争议,则仲裁庭应该在其作出裁决前给当事人提供充分发表意见的机会。在特定情况下,仲裁庭如未履行该告知义务,则即会构成严重失常;(3)仲裁的一个本质特征是,当一个索赔提交仲裁庭之后,仲裁庭只能支持或者不支持该索赔[15]。仲裁庭无权自己创设一个不同于当事人任何一方观点的解决思路。本案中,仲裁庭所采取的处理方式,构成《仲裁法》第68条规定的严重失常;(4)而就实质不公方面,Eder法官同意船东大律师的观点,即船东只要能证明,如果仲裁庭给了各方发表意见的机会,船东说服仲裁员保留管辖权具有现实的可能性即可[16]


五、评论


  通过以上分析,笔者认为下列问题需要引起注意:


  1.依据英国1996年《仲裁法》第68条提起的上诉


  如上所述,英国1996年《仲裁法》第68条赋予当事人在仲裁庭存在程序方面严重失常的情况下,对仲裁裁决进行上诉的权利。但行使该权利的标准非常高,正如Tomlinson法官ABB AG v Hochtief Airport GmbH [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1案中指出,第68条仅仅在极端的情况下才能得以适用[17]。具体来讲,申请人需要证明案件同时满足两个条件:(1)仲裁庭、仲裁程序、仲裁裁决存在严重失常。根据以往的判例,判断标准是极为苛刻的[18];(2)当事人遭受实质不公。而判断当事人是否遭受实质不公则要求该问题超出通常对仲裁程序的合理预见[19]。因此,可以看出,英国法院历来对依据《仲裁法》第68条而干涉仲裁持谨慎的态度,本案的判决,并未改变英国法院的这一立场。值得注意的是,Eder大法官在论证其判决意见之前,首先去确认Tomlinson法官的观点,也可从一定程度上说明其持比较谨慎的观点。但本案的意义在于,作为为数不多的成功案例之一,该案为准备以《仲裁法》第68条而申请对仲裁裁决提起上诉的当事人提供了参考依据。


  2.仲裁程序中用词准确的重要性


  本案中,船东在仲裁中提交的索赔文件所使用的标题是“Claim Submissions for an Interim Award on Demurrage”而并非是“Partial Award”(部分裁决)。Eder法官认为,“Interim Award”并非准确的用词,英国1996年《仲裁法》中并未使用“Interim Award”的这一术语,因此经常产生争议。本案中船东的意图应该是仅仅要求仲裁员就滞期费索赔作出部分裁决,而非就所有争议作出临时裁决[20]。笔者认为,“Interim”通常是指“临时的,暂时的”,在仲裁中,常见的是“Interim Measures/relief/orders”多涉及仲裁庭对证据保全,财产保全、费用担保等程序的权利。


  此外,使用“Interim Award”还可能会涉及该裁决的执行问题。只有终局的有约束力的仲裁裁决才能根据《纽约公约》[21]进行执行,“Interim”一词与“Final”存在区别。实践中如果一方申请仲裁庭对部分问题先行作出裁决,仲裁庭也通常会采用“Partial Final Award”或类似的措辞,以避免该部分裁决被认为是非终局裁决而无法执行的情况。


  3.合同约定的短期时效条款的效力


  在中国,诉讼时效通常会被认定为法律的强制性规定,不允许当事人在合同中自由约定,最高人民法院的司法解释对此存在明确的规定[22]。虽然这一规定本身是否适用于仲裁并不明确,但根据中国《仲裁法》第74条[23]的规定,笔者认为中国《仲裁法》也并未允许当事人就仲裁可以自由约定时效。


但在英国法下,合同中约定短期时效条款比较常见,英国法院通常认可其效力。笔者在实践中常见到类似的条款:例如,在航次租船合同中,合同约定船东要求滞期费应在卸货完毕后60日内提供支持文件,否则视为弃权;在造船合同下,买方(船东)根据还款保函提出退款要求,而船厂/银行如认为存在争议则应在30日内提起仲裁。这些合同条款在适用英国法的情况下均会被支持,因此,在订约时需要特别注意合同中约定的短期时效条款,以免丧失索赔或抗辩的权利。



[1]英国1996年《仲裁法》第68条“Challenging the award: serious irregularity.”

(1) A party to arbitral proceedings may (upon notice to the other parties and to the tribunal) apply to the court challenging an award in the proceedings on the ground of serious irregularity affecting the tribunal, the proceedings or the award.

A party may lose the right to object (see section 73) and the right to apply is subject to the restrictions in section 70(2) and (3).

(2)Serious irregularity means an irregularity of one or more of the following kinds which the court considers has caused or will cause substantial injustice to the applicant—

 (a)failure by the tribunal to comply with section 33 (general duty of tribunal);

 (b)the tribunal exceeding its powers (otherwise than by exceeding its substantive jurisdiction: see section 67);

 (c)failure by the tribunal to conduct the proceedings in accordance with the procedure agreed by the parties;

 (d)failure by the tribunal to deal with all the issues that were put to it;

 (e) any arbitral or other institution or person vested by the parties with powers in relation to the proceedings or the award exceeding its powers;

 (f)uncertainty or ambiguity as to the effect of the award;

 (g) the award being obtained by fraud or the award or the way in which it was procured being contrary to public policy;

 (h)failure to comply with the requirements as to the form of the award; or

 (i)any irregularity in the conduct of the proceedings or in the award which is admitted by the tribunal or by any arbitral or other institution or person vested by the parties with powers in relation to the proceedings or the award.

(3)If there is shown to be serious irregularity affecting the tribunal, the proceedings or the award, the court may—

 (a)remit the award to the tribunal, in whole or in part, for reconsideration,

 (b)set the award aside in whole or in part, or

 (c) declare the award to be of no effect, in whole or in part.

The court shall not exercise its power to set aside or to declare an award to be of no effect, in whole or in part, unless it is satisfied that it would be inappropriate to remit the matters in question to the tribunal for reconsideration.

(4)The leave of the court is required for any appeal from a decision of the court under this section.

[2]杨良宜,《仲裁法-从1996年英国仲裁法到国际商务仲裁》[M]法律出版社,2006:345

[3]1996年《仲裁法》第69条“Appeal on point of law”

[4]Lorand Shipping Limited v. Davof Trading (Africa) B.V. (MV “Ocean Glory”)[2014] EWHC 3521 (Comm)

[5]判决书中提到的仅是“Complaints”(抱怨)并非是正式的“Claim”(索赔)。

[6]涉案租约第27条约定:“Any claim must be lodged, as above, within six months of the last day of discharge of the chartered vessel, or, in the case of non-performance of the charterparty, within twelve months of charterparty cancellation date. In the event of non-compliance with the arbitration time limit set down herein, any claim shall be deemed waived and be absolutely barred.”

[7]英国1980年《时效法案》(Limitation Act 1980)第5条:“An action founded on simple contract shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.”根据该法第34条规定,该6年的时效同样适用于仲裁。

[8]WW Gear Construction Ltd v McGee Group Ltd [2010] EWHC 1460,该案中,Akenhead法官支持了合同约定的短时限约定。判决第19段,“It follows from the above that the requirement to make a timely application in writing is a precondition to the recovery of loss and/or expense under Clause 4.21. The Contractor simply has no entitlement to recover such loss or expense unless and until it has made such an application because it is the application which triggers the ascertainment process which leads to the adjustment of the Contract Sum.…”

[9]第12条 Power of court to extend time for beginning arbitral proceedings, &c

(3)The court shall make an order only if satisfied—.

 (a)that the circumstances are such as were outside the reasonable contemplation of the parties when they agreed the provision in question, and that it would be just to extend the time, or

 (b)that the conduct of one party makes it unjust to hold the other party to the strict terms of the provision in question.

[10]本案判决书第8段“It is fair to say that the language in this paragraph is somewhat confusing. Quite apart from the reference to an interim award (which is, as I have said, a misnomer), the suggestion that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction should be “reserved” for “any and all claims against the Respondents, relating to any claim for damage to cargo, that may be brought against the Owners by the cargo receivers …” gives rise to some difficulty. In particular, the use of the word “reserved” suggests that such claims had already been referred to the Tribunal…”

[11]本案判决书第11段“…Primarily and as final award: All claims denied, costs for account of owners … Alternatively as final award … demurrage in favour of owners of Usdl 13,312.50 … Others claims denied. Costs for account of owners.”

[12]本案判决书第12段和第13段记载,船东的观点:“Only the claim for demurrage is currently the subject matter of these Submissions. Any other claims for damages arising from the delay in discharge of cargo and breaches of the Charterparty will be pursued later. The Owners deny the Charterers’ allegations in paragraph 7 of their Defence Submissions that they are pursuing the wrong party in these proceedings. We repeat that the Owners’ claim at this stage is solely for demurrage under the Charterparty. This is a claim for liquidated damages, which has arisen due to the Charterers’ breach of the Charterparty terms. As per the terms of Clause 5(b) … the Charterers were responsible for the discharge of the cargo and the delay caused in doing so falls clearly upon them. This claim is unrelated to any and all other claims that may be brought against the receivers of the cargo under the Bills of Lading and/or against any and all other parties. This is clearly stated in paragraph 11 of the Claim Submissions.” 租家的观点:“Owners do not substantiate any further claims”

[13]英国1996年《仲裁法》第33条(1) (a) “act fairly and impartially as between the parties, giving each party a reasonable opportunity of putting his case and dealing with that of his opponent”;

[14]本案判决书第18段 “…In that context, Mr Walsh submitted (rightly in my view) that the courts have repeatedly emphasised the very high threshold for any allegation of serious irregularity causing substantial injustice under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996…”

[15]本案判决书第27段,“…As it seems to me, where a claim is submitted to a tribunal for determination, the tribunal is, in effect, obliged to determine the claim one way or another…”

[16]本案判决书第30段 “Fifth, in my view, this failure did cause substantial injustice to the Owners. In that context, I agree with Mr Parker’s submission that it is not necessary for the Court to be persuaded that the Tribunal would necessarily have adopted a different course; and that it is sufficient that the Tribunal might realistically have reached a different conclusion.”

[17]本案判决书第18段“..In short, clause 68 is really designed as a longstop, only available in extreme cases where the tribunal has gone so wrong in its conduct of the arbitration that justice calls out for it to be corrected…”

[18]本判决书第18段 “There are many other judicial pronouncements to similar effect: Fidelity Management v Myriad International Holdings [2005] 2 All ER (Comm) 312, 314 (Morison J: a “long stop” to deal with “extreme cases where … something … went seriously wrong with the arbitral process”); World Trade Corporation Ltd v Czarnikow Sugar Ltd [2004] 2 All ER (Comm) 813, 816 (Colman J); Cameroon Airlines v Transnet [2004] EWHC 1829 (Comm) at para 94 (Langley J: “the test is indeed an extreme case”); The Pamphilos [2002] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 681, 687 (Colman J: “the substance and nature of the injustice goes well beyond what could reasonably be expected as an ordinary incident of arbitration”); Profilati Italia v PaineWebber [2001] 1 All ER (Comm) 1065, 1071 (Moore-Bick J: “it is intended to operate only in extreme cases”); The Petro Ranger [2001] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 348, 351 (Cresswell J); Egmatra v Marco Trading [1999] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 826, 865 (Tuckey J: “no soft option clause as an alternative for a failed application for leave to appeal”).”

[19]本案判决书第18段“Thus it is only in those cases where it can be said that what has happened is so far removed from what could reasonably be expected of the arbitral process that we would expect the Court to take action.”

[20]本案判决书第6段“That was a misnomer. The Arbitration Act 1996 does not use the term “interim award”: see Sucafina v Rotenberg [2012] EWCA Civ 637, [2013] Bus LR 158 in particular at [23]. In my view, the term is a constant source of confusion and should be abandoned. Rather, properly described, this was, as I understand, an application by the Owners for a partial award pursuant to s47 of the Arbitration Act 1996.”

[21]《纽约公约》第5条第1款(e)项,“the award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been set aside or suspended by a competent authority of the country in which, or under the law of which, that award was made.”

[22]最高人民法院《关于审理民事案件适用诉讼时效制度若干问题的规定》第2条规定,“当事人违反法律规定,约定延长或者缩短诉讼时效期间、预先放弃诉讼时效利益的,人民法院不予认可。”

[23]中国《仲裁法》第74条规定,“法律对仲裁时效有规定的,适用该规定。法律对仲裁时效没有规定的,适用诉讼时效的规定。”


(注:案件细节不同可能会影响案件的处理结果,所以本文并非本所就处理相关争议的法律意见。如对文章内容存有疑问或需相关法律意见,请联系作者。)

(来源:伯宁律师事务所 boninglvshi

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