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仲裁员的信息披露问题(英国案例)

20191213日,在Dadoun v Biton [2019] EWHC 3441 (Ch)一案中,英格兰与威尔士高等法院(以下简称法院)认为,仲裁员与一方当事人之间关于裁决作出时间的讨论未披露给另一方当事人,该事实本身不足以证明仲裁员存在明显偏见或构成《1996年仲裁法》第68条所指的严重不规范行为。因此,法院驳回了申请人根据《1996年仲裁法》第68条提出的撤销裁决的申请。

一、背景介绍

涉案争议与RSM公司的股权有关。199712月,申请人与Friedman先生RSM和另一家公司Chaplin的股东。19971214日,申请人、Friedman先生、被申请人、被申请人的兄弟签订四方协议,根据该协议,被申请人与其兄弟将支付27500英镑的投资款并获得RSMChaplin50%股权,剩余50%股权由申请人与Friedman共同持有。

19998月,申请人将个人房产抵押获得贷款并购买了Friedman在两家公司的股权。剩余的抵押款13000英镑支付给了被申请人。申请人与被申请人对该笔款项的性质产生争议。申请人认为支付给被申请人的13000英镑是用于购买被申请人在RSM所持有的50%股权,此后RSM将完全归申请人所有。被申请人认为,申请人是代表合伙企业获得贷款,支付给被申请人的13000英镑是对被申请人投资款27500英镑的部分返还,被申请人认为其仍持有RSM 50%的股权,同时他仍然欠缴投资款14500英镑。

200511月,被申请人向申请人提起诉讼。申请人随后向Beth DinBeth Din是一个犹太拉比法庭,正统犹太人可以将商事争议提交该法庭进行仲裁,本案即为如此。Beth Din法庭由三个Dayanim(法官,此处成为仲裁员)组成,并根据哈拉卡,即犹太法律和法学,而不是根据英国民法解决争议)The Beth Din is a Jewish Rabbinical Court and it can be used by Orthodox Jews to arbitrate their commercial disputes, as happened in this case. The Beth Din consists of three Dayanim (or Judges) and they make their decisions by reference to Halacha, which is Jewish Law and Jurisprudence, rather than English civil law.

201444日,Beth Din作出裁决,此时距离第一次口头庭审已经近6年。Beth Din在很大程度上作出了对被申请人有利的裁决。Beth Din得出结论认为被申请人仍然持有其在RSM50%股权,因此有权获得RSMChaplin的收益,并认定被申请人有权获得的款项为213150英镑。

 

201564日,申请人根据《1996年仲裁法》第69条提出上诉。201738日,申请人修改了申请,包括根据《1996年仲裁法》第68提出上诉。2017927日,根据《1996年仲裁法》第68条提出的上诉获得批准。

法院对申请人的第68申请作出如下认定。

二、法院认定

1996年仲裁法》第68条规定:

68. 裁决异议:严重不规范行为

1)仲裁程序的一方当事人(经通知其他当事人和仲裁庭)可在仲裁程序中以存在影响仲裁庭、仲裁程序或裁决的严重不当行为为由就裁决向法院提出异议。

当事人可能会丧失异议权(见第73条)并不应违背第70条第2款和第3款的限制。

2)严重不规范行为是指下列一种或几种不规范行为,且法院认为对申请方已造成或将造成实质性的不公正。

a)仲裁庭违反第33条(仲裁庭的一般义务)……”

68 Challenging theaward: 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 irregularityof 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);

1996年仲裁法》第33条规定仲裁庭的一般义务:“(1)仲裁庭应:(a)公平及公正地对待当事人,给予各方当事人合理的机会陈述案件并抗辩对方当事人的陈述,并(b)根据特定案件的具体情况采取合适的程序,避免不必要的延误或开支,以对待决事项提供公平的解决方式。(2)仲裁庭应在进行仲裁程序过程中、在其对程序和证据事项的决定中以及在行使授予它的所有其他权力时,都应遵守该一般义务。”

33 General duty of the tribunal

(1) The tribunal shall—

(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, and

(b) adopt procedures suitable to the circumstances of the particular case, avoiding unnecessary delay or expense, so as to provide a fair means for the resolution of the matters falling to be determined.

(2) The tribunal shall comply with that general duty in conducting the arbitral proceedings, in its decisions on matters of procedure and evidence and in the exercise of all other powers conferred on it.

1996年仲裁法》第24条规定:“(1)基于下列理由,仲裁程序的一方当事人(经通知另一方当事人、当事仲裁员和其他仲裁员后)可申请法院撤换仲裁员:(a)存在当事人对该仲裁员的公正性产生具有正当理由的怀疑的事由。”

24 Power of court to remove arbitrator

(1)A party to arbitral proceedings may (upon notice to the other parties, to the arbitrator concerned and to any other arbitrator) apply to the court to remove an arbitrator on any of the following grounds—(a)that circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality;

一个共识是,如果Beth Din存在明显的偏见,将构成该《1996年仲裁法》第682)(a)条的严重不规范行为。此外,认定存在明显偏见将不可避免地导致第682)条所指的“实质性的不公正”。(It is common ground that apparent bias on the part of the Beth Din would amount to a breach of the general duty in s.33 of the Act and would constitute a serious irregularity under s.68(2)(a) of the Act. Furthermore, a finding of apparent bias will almost inevitably lead to there being a "substantial injustice" within s.68(2).

普通法中关于公正和明显偏见的检验标准同样适用于仲裁。Hope勋爵在Porter v Magill[2002] 2 AC 357案中阐述了这个著名的检验标准,即“思想公正、见多识广的观察者考虑到事实后,是否会得出仲裁庭确实有可能存在偏见的结论(whether the fair minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased)” 这位思想公正、见多识广的观察者并不过分敏感或多疑,但他们也不会自满(参见Bubbles & Wine Ltdv Lusha [2018] EWCA Civ 468案)。

根据Halliburton Company v Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd and ors [2018] 1 WLR 3361案,不披露本身不足以认定存在明显的偏见,还需要考虑更多因素。不披露这个事实将被纳入思想公正、见多识广的观察者对仲裁员公正性的评估,但这只是一个因素,还需要其他一些因素,法院才能得出存在明显偏见的结论。(It is clear from Halliburton that non-disclosure is not in itself enough to found apparent bias and "something more is required". The fact of non-disclosure will contribute to the fair minded and informed observer's assessment of the impartiality of the arbitrator but it is only a factor and there needs to be some other factor(s) before the Court can conclude that there was apparent bias.

20171月,申请人获准查阅Beth Din保留的与裁决有关的文件。在文件中,原告发现了被申请人于2013723日写给Beth Din的负责人——Dayan Lichtenstein的一封信函。这封用希伯来语写的长达17段的信函透露,大约四周前,Dayan Lichtenstein与被申请人的兄弟Rabbi Biton曾有过一次会面,Rabbi Biton在这封信函之前的一星期(2013718日)曾致信Dayan Lichtenstein。毫无疑问,这些信息都没有向申请人披露。

在本案中,申请人提出上诉的唯一依据是,Dayan Lichtenstein存在明显偏见。毫无疑问,Dayan Lichtenstein20136月与被申请人的兄弟进行过讨论。申请人表示他直到2017年才得知此事,并认为此次讨论非常可疑并导致了影响裁决的严重不规范行为。被申请人辩称其兄弟与Yisroel Lichtenstein的讨论无关紧要,时间很短,且仅涉及作出裁决的时间。

法院认为,申请人关于明显偏见的指控现在完全依赖未披露的讨论和201371823日的信件。申请人的律师承认,如果讨论的内容仅限于作出裁决的时间,这样的讨论本身并不能证明存在任何明显的偏见。

下一个问题是,不向申请人披露这次讨论是否会构成明显的偏见。法院认为,很难看出,不对不属于明显偏见证据的讨论作出披露,该事实本身怎么可能成为明显偏见的证据。这甚至不在Halliburton案“本应披露”的检验标准之内。因此,未披露一个无关紧要的关于时间的讨论,不会使一个公正和知情的观察者考虑是否会引起任何对Dayan LichtensteinBeth Din的公正性的怀疑。(It is difficult to see how the non-disclosure of something that was not evidence of apparent bias could itself be evidence of apparent bias. This is not even within the Halliburton test of being something that"should have been disclosed". Accordingly the non-disclosure of an insignificant conversation about timing is not something that a fair minded and informed observer would consider gives rise to any doubts about the impartiality of Dayan Lichtenstein and the Beth Din.

尽管法院对于被申请人发送的2013723日的信函当时没有披露给申请人表示遗憾(由于法院没有看到2013718日的信函,故不能评论该信函是否应予以披露),这是Beth Din管理的失败而不是什么邪恶的东西。如果当时向申请人披露这一情况,申请人就会发现,Dayan LichtensteinRabbi Biton曾就裁决作出的时间进行讨论,申请人可能对此毫不关心。法院不认为未披露这封信函能提供证据证明Beth Din存在明显偏见。(Whether it is pleaded or not, I do not regard it as a good point. While I certainly think that it is unfortunate and regrettable that the Defendant's letter of 23 July 2013 was not disclosed to the Claimant at the time (I have not seen the 18 July 2013 letter from Rabbi Biton, so cannot comment on whether it ought to have been disclosed), that was because of a failure of administration at the Beth Din rather than anything sinister. If it had been disclosed to the Claimant at the time, he would have seen that there had been a discussion between Dayan Lichtenstein and Rabbi Biton about when the Award would be issued and he probably would have been totally unconcerned about that. I do not consider that the failure to disclose this letter provides any evidence that could support a case for apparent bias against the Beth Din.

综上所述,法院驳回了申请人的第68条申请。

三、评论

本案的案情较为简单,申请人提出上诉的唯一依据是,审理该案的Dayan Lichtenstein存在明显偏见。理由是Dayan Lichtenstein20136月曾与被申请人的兄弟进行过讨论。被申请人认为此次讨论无关紧要,时间很短,且仅涉及作出裁决的时间,故不披露此次讨论不构成《1996年仲裁法》第68条所指的严重不规范行为。

在这点上,申请人的律师承认,如果讨论的内容仅限于作出裁决的时间,这样的讨论本身并不能证明存在任何明显的偏见。法院在本案中阐明,如果未被披露的内容不属于存在明显偏见的证据,那么不披露该内容本身也不足以证明存在明显偏见。