Enforcement of arbitral awards: Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Irish and Jersey law

As the use of arbitration as a means of dispute resolution has grown in popularity, there has been a marked increase in the need for arbitral awards to be recognised and enforced in offshore jurisdictions.

The international legal regime for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards is based on the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the "New York Convention").  This is complemented by the UNCITRAL Model Law for Arbitration (the "UNCITRAL Model Law"), which seeks to streamline the procedure and conduct of arbitrations between states, including those which are signatories to the New York Convention. 

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All of the key offshore jurisdictions are parties to the New York Convention and have adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law into domestic law, albeit with some modifications, meaning that enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in those territories will often be straightforward. 

Where the New York Convention applies, the offshore court may only refuse to grant an order for the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award if they are satisfied that one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  1. that a party to the arbitration agreement was under some form of incapacity;
  2. the arbitration agreement was not valid;
  3. a party was not given proper notice of the appointment of the arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present their case;
  4. the award deals with a difference not falling within the terms of the arbitration agreement or contains decisions on matters that are beyond its scope;
  5. the composition of the panel or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties or the law of the country where the arbitration took place; or
  6. the award is not yet binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by a competent authority;
  7. the award is in respect of a matter which is not arbitrable under the laws of the jurisdiction where enforcement is sought; or
  8. enforcing the award would be contrary to public policy in the jurisdiction where enforcement is sought.

In the case of an award from a non-New York Convention jurisdiction, the court may refuse to grant an order for the recognition or enforcement of an arbitral award for the same reasons and additionally if for any other reason the court considers it just to do so. 

Once an award has been recognised by a court in the relevant offshore jurisdiction, it can be enforced in the same manner as a judgment or order of the local court.

Kevin TaylorManaging PartnerT +1 441 242 1510kevin.taylor@walkersglobal.com

Rosalind NicholsonPartnerT +1 284 852 2237rosalind.nicholson@walkersglobal.com

Chris KeefePartnerT +1 345 814 4574 chris.keefe@walkersglobal.com
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Luke PetithPartnerT +971 4 363 7926luke.petith@walkersglobal.com

Adam ColePartnerT +44 (0) 1481 748 912adam.cole@walkersglobal.com

John CrookPartnerT +852 2596 3344john.crook@walkersglobal.com

William GreensmythPartnerT +353 1 470 6679william.greensmyth@walkersglobal.com

Richard HoldenPartnerT 44 (0) 1534 700 823 richard.holden@walkersglobal.com

Andrew ChissickPartnerT +44 (0)20 7220 4994 andrew.chissick@walkersglobal.com

Adam HinksPartnerT +65 6603 1657adam.hinks@walkersglobal.com