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香港法院驳回了基于严重不规范行为和未能陈述案情而提出的撤销裁决的申请(香港案例)

2019613日,在N v C [2019] HKCFI 2292一案中,香港高等法院原讼法庭(以下简称法院)认为,在涉案仲裁中,原告已获得陈述案情的合理机会,仲裁员已经处理了所有争议事项。无论是基于存在严重不规范行为或根据《仲裁条例》第81条,法院都没有理由撤销裁决或将裁决发回。因此,法院驳回了原告撤销裁决或将裁决发回的申请。

一、背景介绍

2007328日,原告(仲裁程序被申请人)作为雇主与作为主承包商的被告(仲裁程序申请人)就位于澳门的住宅建造签订了《协议》。随后,当事人就工程期的延长和延期损失的支付产生争议。最终结算单显示建筑师同意延长的工期为269天,其中181天按照每日10万澳元延迟损失,与延迟相关的波动损失为1200万澳元。建筑师未同意就剩余88天的延期支付损失。

被告提起仲裁,对建筑师出具的最终结算证明提出异议,并要求原告按照每日10万澳元的费率就原定竣工期限之后的360天的延期支付延期损失,并支付延期相关的波动损失1200万澳元。

《协议》第24条要求被告在引起索赔的事件发生之日起2个月内,提交详细的关于损失和支出的申请以及证据(Clause 24 requires the Defendant to submit its detailed application for loss and expense, supported by evidence, within 2 months from the date of the event giving rise to the loss claimed)。在仲裁程序中,原告承认,当事人约定了就建筑师同意的延期期间,支付每日10万澳元的损失和支出。但是,原告同时认为,在2个月期限内提交申请是被告主张权利的先决条件,由于被告没有在2个月期限内提交关于损失和支出的申请,故被告无权获得任何损失和支出补偿。被告则认为2个月期限不是提交申请的先决条件。

仲裁庭认为,被告无权根据《协议》第24条获得损失和支出补偿,但是根据当事人在签订《协议》之前达成的协议(先合同协议),被告有权获得损失和支出补偿。2018125日,仲裁庭作出裁决,要求仲裁被申请人(本案原告)向仲裁申请人(本案被告)支付255万澳元的延期损失,以及延期相关的波动损失1200万澳元。20181220日,仲裁庭对仲裁裁决进行更正。

2019114日,原告根据《仲裁条例》附表241)和(3)条以存在严重不规范行为为由请求法院部分撤销仲裁裁决或将该部分裁决发回仲裁庭。作为替代选择,原告根据《仲裁条例》第811)条基于以下理由请求撤销仲裁裁决:(1)未能陈述案情;(2)仲裁裁决包括对超出仲裁范围的事项的裁决;(3)仲裁程序未能根据当事人的协议进行。

二、法院认定

原告认为其被剥夺了陈述案情的机会,且仲裁员超出管辖权,未能根据当事人的协议进行仲裁程序。原告还认为,仲裁员未处理其在诉状中提出的根本争议事项,且被告没有在《协议》第24条规定的时间内提交任何关于其损失的申请,被告的请求已经超过时间限制。

1. 适用的法律原则

Maeda Kensetsu Kogyo KabushikiKaisha v China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited [2019] HKCFI 1006案列出了适用于基于严重不规范行为撤销仲裁裁决的判例和法律原则,本案当事人均未对这些原则的适用提出异议,法院没有在本案裁定中重申这些原则。(The decision in Maeda Kensetsu Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha v China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited [2019] HKCFI 1006 sets out the authorities and legal principles applicable to the setting aside of arbitral awards on grounds of seriousir regularity (in paragraphs 4 to 10 of the Judgment). Neither party disputes the application of these principles, and they will not be repeated here.

2. 原告是否被剥夺了陈述案情的机会

原告指出当事人就延期费率(每日10万澳元)达成的协议没有在诉状中提出。对此,法院根据当事人在仲裁程序中的相关文书和仲裁裁决中的相关段落反驳了了原告的上述论点,认为被告在其答复书第26段提出了当事人之间关于延期费率的协议。

法院查明,原告在就每日费率和该费率所覆盖的延期期间提交意见时,有机会就以下事项陈述案情:是否存在补偿权协议,当事人在约定采用该每日费用时的实际意图,以及所争论的问题所产生的影响(In making its submissions on the application of the daily rate, and the EOT to which the agreed rate extended, the Plaintiff had the opportunity to present its case on whether there was an Agreement on Entitlement, what the parties had in fact meant when they agreed to adopt the daily rate, and the effect of what was contended to have been agreed)。

法院认为,根据《仲裁条例》第46 (3)(b)条,原告有权获得陈述案情和应对对方当事人观点的“合理机会”(What the Plaintiff is entitled to under section 46 (3) (b) of the Ordinance is a “reasonable opportunity” to present its case and to deal with the case of its opponent)。法院援引Reliance Industries Ltd v Union of India [2018] EWHC 822案的观点表示,记住缺乏处理案件的机会与未能认识到或抓住这样的机会之间的区别非常重要……只要要点呈现在程序中就已经足够,即使它没有被准确地表达出来……最后,是否有合理机会陈述或应对案情是公平问题,也永远是事实和程度的问题,视每个个案的具体情况而定(It is always important to keep in mind the distinction between a lack of opportunity to deal with a case and a failure to recognize or take such opportunity…It is enough if the point is “in play” or “in the arena” in the proceedings, even if it is not precisely articulated…whether there has been a reasonable opportunity to present or meet a case, is one of fairness and will always be one of fact and degree which is sensitive to the specific circumstances of each individual case)。

基于对当事人的诉请,当事人向仲裁员所提交意见的本质,裁决中的分析及理由的解读,法院不认为被告在仲裁程序中未就补偿权协议提出请求,也不认为原告无法合理地将补偿权协议设想为是仲裁中出现的争议事项并使得原告没有合理机会陈述其案情(On my reading of the pleaded case, the substance of the submissions made before the tribunal, and the an alysismade and reasons given in the Award, I am not satisfied that the Agreement on Entitlement was not pleaded, or could not reasonably have been envisaged by the Plaintiff as an issue arising in the Arbitration, such that the Plaintiff was not given the reasonable opportunity to present its case. The issue was in the arena, and the opportunity had been made available to the Plaintiff, to present and argue its case on the Agreement on Entitlement)。法院援引了Terna Bahrain Holding Company WLL v Bin Kamil Shamsi and Others [2012] EWHC 3283 (Comm)案的判决以支持其观点。

因此,法院不认为仲裁员在补偿权协议的处理和决定方面偏离了对仲裁的合理期望,故不需要基于严重不规范(参见Grindrod Shipping Pte Ltd v Hundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd [2018] EWHC 1284 (Comm)案),或严重违反正当程序而进行更正In any event, on the case as pleaded, I am not satisfied that the Arbitrator’s dealing with and deciding on the Agreement on Entitlement is sofar removed from what could reasonably be expected from the Arbitration, that justice calls out for it to be corrected as a serious irregularity (Grindrod Shipping Pte Ltd v Hundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd [2018] EWHC 1284 (Comm)), or as an egregious denial of due process)。

3. 仲裁员是否未处理所有争议事项

原告认为,仲裁员没有处理其在诉状中提出的时间限制问题。法院认为,从裁决中可以明显看出,仲裁员是根据当事人之间的补偿权协议就被告对损失和费用所享有的权利,对提交给他的问题作出裁决(It is clear from reading the Award that the Arbitrator decided the issues referred to him on the Defendant’s entitlement to loss and expense, on the basis of the parties’  Agreement on Entitlement)。根据仲裁员的分析和结论,《协议》第24条规定的时间限制将不适用,因为根据仲裁员关于补偿权协议的存在和效力的结论,允许被告提出索赔(On the Arbitrator’s analysis and findings, the time limit prescribed under Clause 24 would not apply, as the Defendant’sclaims were allowed by virtue of the Arbitrator’s findings on the existence and effect of the Agreement on Entitlement)。

仲裁员或许没有为裁决提供充分的理由,或者没有充分澄清提出请求的时间限制基于其对补偿权协议的存在、意义和效力的认定而不再适用(It may be that the Arbitrator had not given adequate reasons for his Award, or sufficiently clarified that the claim of time bar fell away because of his findings on the existence, meaning and effect of the Agreement on Entitlement)。但是,正如法院在Secretary of State for the Home Department v Raytheon Systems Ltd [2014] EWHC 4375 (TCC)中所言,“如果仲裁庭以任何方式处理了争议事项,第68 (2)(d)条即不适用,调查就此结束;仲裁庭在处理争议事项方面的好坏对第68 (2)(d)条的目的而言不会有影响(If the tribunal has dealt with the issue in any way, Section 68 (2) (d) is inapplicable and that is the end of the inquiry (Primera at paragraph 40-1); it does not matter for the purposes of Section 68 (2) (d) that the tribunal has dealt with it well, badly or indifferently)。未能为其决定提供任何理由或提供任何充分的理由并不等同于未处理某一争议事项。仲裁庭未列出其得出结论的每一个步骤或未处理当事人提出的每一个观点,不等同于未能处理所提交的争议事项A failure to provide any or any sufficient reasons for the decision is not the same as failing to deal with an issue (Fidelity Management v Myriad International [2005] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 508, paragraph 10, World Trade Corporation, paragraph 19). A failure by a tribunal to set out each step by which they reach its conclusion or deal with each point made by a party is not a failure to deal with an issue that was put to it (Hussman v Al Ameen [2000] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 83)…)。”

许多法院已经强调,未处理某一争议事项不等同于未处理当事人在庭审中提出的某一论点(根据《仲裁条例》附表第42)条)并因此忽略了驳回该论点的理由(The courts have also emphasized that a failure to deal with an issue (under section 4 (2) of the Schedule) is not equivalent to failure to deal with an argument that had been advanced at the hearing and therefore to have omitted the reasons for rejecting it)。在Weldon Plant Ltd v The Commission for the New Towns [2000] BLR 496案中,法院解释道,《英国仲裁法》第682)(d)条(相当于《仲裁条例》附表第42)条)不应被用作“对仲裁庭审议各种问题的方式进行详细调查的一种手段”。

在本案中,仲裁庭认为,被告无权根据《协议》第24条获得损失和支出补偿,但是根据当事人在签订《协议》之前达成的先合同协议(即补偿权协议Agreement on Entitlement),被告有权获得损失和支出补偿。被告关于损失和支出请求的论点没有在《协议》第24条规定的时间内提出,对于仲裁员基于独立的补偿权协议作出的决定和认定没有重大或关键的影响In this case, the argument that the Defendant’s claim for loss and expense was not made in time under Clause 24 did not have significant or crucial effect on the Arbitrator’s decision and findings on the basis of the separate Agreement on Entitlement)。前述Secretary of State for the Home Department v Raytheon Systems Ltd案的观点可以恰当地适用到本案中。

对于以严重不规范为由或根据《仲裁条例》第81条提出的撤销申请,仲裁庭在事实和法律认定方面是否正确,其决定是否得到证据支持,是否已经为其认定提供充分理由,以及仲裁员推理的质量都不是需要审议的事项Whether the Arbitrator is right on his findings of facts and law, whether his decision is supported by evidence, whether he has given sufficient reasons for his finding, and the quality of the Arbitrator’s reasoning, are not matters of consideration in an application to set aside for serious irregularity, or undersection 81 of the Ordinance)。根据Warborough Investments Limited v S Robinson & Sons (Holdings) Limited [2002] EWHC 2502 (Ch)案的观点,“问题不在于仲裁员是否得出了正确的结论。唯一的问题是仲裁员在得出结论时是否存在严重不规范的行为The issue is not whether the arbitrator came to the right conclusion. The sole issue is whether he committed a serious irregularity in coming to the conclusion that he did)。”

4. 关于波动费用的认定

原告就仲裁员关于波动费用的认定提出了相同的论点:仲裁员的决定是基于“先合同协议(Ex-Contract Agreement)”,该先合同协议没有在诉请中提出或提交仲裁员决定,且仲裁员没有处理关于时间限制的抗辩。

在本案中,被告在申请书中请求支付延期相关的波动费用损失1200万澳元。原告辩称,根据《协议》第24条,该请求超过时间限制。法院查明,当事人在仲裁中已就诉争协议(即先合同协议)中就波动费用以及是否承诺在承认责任的基础上支付该费用提交了事实和专家证据。双方当事人提交的意见书表明存在诉争协议,原告在结案陈词中承认被告援引了最终结算单中的评估。仲裁庭是基于当事人提交的证据和论点得出结论。仲裁员支持被告的波动费用请求是基于“先合同协议”,而非基于《协议》,因此,《协议》第24条的先决条件和对合同请求提出的时间限制抗辩,对于仲裁员决定商定的争议事项清单中所列的事项而言并不重要(The Arbitrator’s allowance of the Defendant’s claims for fluctuations was clearly stated to be on the basis of the “ex-contract” compromise. Not being based on the Contract, the condition precedent in Clause 24 and the time bar defence to the contractual claim would not arise as an issue essential to the Arbitrator’s decision on the matters identified in the agreed List of Issues)。

基于同样的理由,法院拒绝接受原告的如下观点,即由于原告未能就先合同协议陈述案情,仲裁员超越管辖权,或未能根据约定的程序进行仲裁,或处理所有争议事项(For the same reasons given under the previous 2 headings, I reject the Plaintiff’s arguments that it had not been able to present its case on the Ex-contract Agreement, that the Arbitrator had exceeded its powers, or that he had failed to either conduct the proceedings in accordance with the agreed procedure, or to deal with all the issues)。

综上所述,法院认为无论基于存在严重不规范行为,或根据《仲裁条例》第81条,法院都没有理由撤销裁决或将裁决发回。因此法院驳回了原告的申请,要求原告在赔偿基础上向被告支付费用(It follows from my findings and conclusions that there is no ground to either set aside or remit the Award, whether for serious irregularity, or under section 81 of the Ordinance. The Plaintiff’s application is dismissed, with costs to the Defendant on indemnity basis, with certificate for 2 counsel)。

三、评论

在本案中,涉案仲裁庭认为,被告无权根据《协议》第24条获得损失和支出补偿,但是根据当事人在签订《协议》之前达成的先合同协议,被告有权获得损失和支出补偿。仲裁员或许没有为裁决提供充分的理由,或者没有充分澄清提出请求的时间限制基于其对补偿权协议的存在、意义和效力的认定而不再适用。但是,法院在本案中重申,未能为其决定提供任何理由或提供任何充分的理由并不等同于未处理某一争议事项。仲裁庭未列出其得出结论的每一个步骤或未处理当事人提出的每一个观点,不等同于未能处理所提交的争议事项。