谁是我的对手方-身份混淆如何导致毁掉本该胜利的仲裁?

原文始发于微信公众号(瑞中法协):谁是我的对手方-身份混淆如何导致毁掉本该胜利的仲裁?


Who is my opposite party? How a case of confused identity can nullify anarbitral award

谁是我的对手方-身份混淆如何导致毁掉本该胜利的仲裁?

(译文附后)


正确识别争议方是最重要的,任何错误都可以决定仲裁裁决的无效性。香港初审法院最近的一项裁决为这个问题提供了强有力的借鉴。本文以香港国际仲裁中心[2021] HKFCI 327一案为例,探讨在国际仲裁中分辨正确主体(及名称)的重要性。本文作者BernardoCartoni是英国特许仲裁院仲裁员,《瑞中法律评论》版权所有。 点击”阅读原文”,访问瑞中法律评论官网。


谁是我的对手方-身份混淆如何导致毁掉本该胜利的仲裁?

Introduction

Identifying the parties in dispute correctly is of paramount importance and any mistake can determine the nullity of the arbitral award.

A very recent decision of the Hong Kong Court of First Instance provides a helpful illustration of this problem.

Facts of the case and ratio decidendi

In this case (AB v CD, [2021] HKFCI 327), dated 18 February 2021, AB Engineering filed a petition to set aside an award to CD worth USD $18 million (plus interest and costs) ordered by an Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) award.

AB Engineering alleged that it was not a party to an agreement that had been made between CD and AB Bureau. It said it has not received proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or the arbitration proceedings and that the award had dealt with a dispute beyond the terms of the submission to arbitration and it went extra petita. Hence, AB Engineering applied that the arbitral award should be set aside according to art. 34 [2] [a] [i] [ii] [iii] of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Commercial Arbitration, enshrined in Sec. 81 Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance Cap. 609.

AB v CD stated how CD alleged that AB Engineering

is estopped and debarred from denying that the Award is enforceable against it, and from applying to set aside the Award, on the basis that employees of AB Engineering had misled CD and the tribunal into believing that Bureau had been renamed AB Engineering and that AB Engineering had failed to state its objection to any procedure in the Arbitration.

The Notice of Arbitration was served to AB Bureau on Guangyan Road, Langfang (Mainland) and subsequent communications by the HKIAC were served to the respondent at the address stated in the Notice of Arbitration (Guongyang Road).

As AB v CD pointed out “on 16 July 2019, … CD’s representatives received an email from one Ms X, who described herself as from the ‘Contracts & Legal Department of AB (AB Engineering, previously called AB Bureau) International’.” In this email, Ms X stated colleagues from AB Middle East had forwarded CD’s email and asked for more details about the HKIAC case and the relevant agreement.

The following day a certain Mr Y – “from [the] Legal Department of AB Engineering Middle East (previously named AB Bureau)” – wrote to CD stating that their email dated June 25, 2019, was the first communication received related to the HKIAC case. Consequently, previous correspondence has not been properly served. Mr Y asked CD “to provide for the details about the case HKIAC/A19089 including the formal application for arbitration, the confirmation letter from HKIAC and all the previous formal correspondences”.

The same day (17 July, 2019) an amended Notice of Arbitration was sent to AB Bureau by email, identifying the Respondent as “AB Bureau also known as AB Bureau Co, Ltd ”. There was no further reaction from the respondent.

In November 2019, CD applied to the sole arbitrator to amend the respondent’s name to “AB Engineering formerly known as AB Bureau”, alleging that this change of name was found in the respondent’s website and the final award was issued identifying AB Engineering as Respondent.

As Judge Mimmie Chan pointed out, CD assumption was not correct, because “the copy of the website which was attached as Annex 2 is examined, there was, in fact, no statement contained there, to the effect that AB Bureau had become AB Engineering after restructuring …”. Moreover, the ruling stated, the only information on the website was that

“Oil and Gas Pipeline Bureau, the predecessor of AB” was reformed to China National Petroleum Corporation later; that in 1992, “the company” was renamed as “AB Bureau”; that in 1999, AB Bureau was restructured into a professional pipeline engineering company, and that in 2017, “AB Engineering (AB) was established after restructuring”.

AB Engineering had applied to set aside the award, stating that it was not part of the agreement. AB Engineering and AB Bureau, it claimed, are two separate legal entities even though both are subsidiaries of China National Petroleum  Corporation and, at the time of the Agreement, AB Engineering was a subsidiary of AB Bureau. Nevertheless, they had different social credit codes and different incorporation dates.

CD had tried to rely “on the fact that clause 1.4 of the definitions section of the Agreement defined “AB” to mean “AB Bureau or any other Affiliated entity”. Thus, CD assumed, AB Engineering (as a subsidiary of AB Bureau) had to be deemed  party to the agreement.

In her judgement on AB v CD, Judge Mimmie Chan – making a distinction from Giorgio Armani SpA v Elan Clothes Co Ltd ([2019] 2 HKLRD 313) – held that:

There is no such clear indication in the Agreement in this case, and no reference to any other subsidiary or affiliate of AB/Bureau in other parts of the Agreement which set out the rights and obligations of the parties to the Agreement. There is only the apparently wide definition of AB. As AB Engineering highlighted, AB/Bureau was at the time of the Agreement in 2013 a subsidiary of CNPC, and Bureau had over 30 subsidiary companies. There is no evidence that AB Engineering had any role in relation to the performance under the Agreement, the rights conferred or the obligations imposed thereunder.

So, the Court of First Instance held that there is no arbitration agreement between CD and AB Engineering and the award should be set aside according to Art. 34 [2] [a] [i] of the Model Law.

Furthermore, the court underlined that the respondent did not receive proper notice of the arbitration, because the correct address was not served. Of course, proper notice is  “an important step in the arbitration” as emphasised in Sun Tian Gang v HK & China Gas (Jilin) Ltd ([2016] 5 HKLRD 221), one of the precedents quoted in the decision. According to art. 29.1 of the agreement between CD and AB Engineering, the correct address to serve was “Guangyang Road”, not “Guangyan Road” and not “Guongyang Road.” The notice of Arbitration and subsequent  documents were served to Guangyan Road. The address stated in the notice of arbitration and the amended notice of arbitration was Guongyang Road. Furthermore, the latter were, in any case, addressed to AB Bureau or AB Bureau Co. Ltd.

Hence, the Award shall be set aside according to Art. 34 [2] [a] [ii] Model Law.

The Court held that there was no ground for estoppel (as claimed by CD), because – referring to emails dated 16 and 17 July 2019 – “there was no reliance by CD on the alleged representation that AB Engineering was previously named Bureau”. On the contrary, CD relied on its (erroneous) understanding of AB’s website. The Court criticised CD’s conduct, stating that:

As this Court indicated at the hearing, it is incumbent on a claimant and its legal advisers to identify the proper defendant/respondent and to verify its name, particularly after query has been raised. It is no excuse for CD and its legal advisers now to put the blame on employees of Bureau/AB Engineering for any misnomer in the name of the party CD seeks to bring proceedings against.

Judge Chan held that the case law relied upon by CD (SEB Trygg Holding AB v Manches [2005] EWCA Civ 1237) was not good authority for the case at hand. In that case the respondent took part in the arbitral proceedings. She relied on UK Justice of the Supreme Court Lord Mance’s opinion in Dallah Co v Ministry of Religious Affairs of Pakistan ([2011] 1 AC 763), which states that:

A person who denies being a party to any relevant arbitration agreement has no obligation to participate in the arbitration or to take any steps in the country of the seat of what he maintains to be an invalid arbitration leading to an invalid award against him.

Accordingly, the Court of First Instance upheld AB’s application to set aside the HKIAC award.

Concluding remarks

This case makes it agonisingly clear how correctly identifying the parties to an arbitration is absolutely crucial. It is of huge importance to serve every arbitration document to a party’s correct address properly.

Every counsel should bear this warning in mind. But arbitrators also should check – as far as possible – that the identification and contact details of a party are accurate, in particular the serving address. It is the general duty of each arbitrator to issue a valid and enforceable award and to conduct proceedings in a cost-effective and time-efficient way.

Double checking not only saves time and money. It can prevent a favourable award from going to waste.

Image credit: Wpcpey via WikiMedia.


谁是我的对手方?身份混淆的情况下如何使仲裁裁决无效


介绍

正确识别争议方是最重要的,任何错误都可以决定仲裁裁决的无效性。香港初审法院最近的一项裁决为这个问题提供了强有力的借鉴。

 

事实与理由

2021218日的这个案件(ABCD[2021] HKFCI 327)中,AB工程公司提出申请,要求撤销香港国际仲裁中心(HKIAC)裁决的价值1800万美元(加上利息和费用)的对CD的赔偿。


AB工程公司声称,它不是CD公司和AB“企业之间达成的协议的一方。它说,它没有收到关于任命仲裁员或仲裁程序的适当通知,而且裁决所处理的争端超出了提交仲裁的条件,它是额外的请求。因此,AB工程公司申请根据第34[2][a][b]条撤销该仲裁裁决。因此,AB工程公司申请根据《联合国国际贸易法委员会商业仲裁示范法》第34[2][a][i][ii][iii]条(载于《香港仲裁条例》第81条)撤销仲裁裁决。

 

ABCD案中,CD声称AB工程公司如何阻止和禁止AB工程公司否认裁决可对其执行,并申请撤销裁决,理由是AB工程公司的雇员误导了CD和法庭,使其相信其AB “企业已经改名为AB工程公司,而且AB工程公司没有说明其对仲裁的任何程序的反对。

 

仲裁通知书已送达位于廊坊市广阳路的AB“(中国大陆),香港国际仲裁中心随后的函件也已送达仲裁通知书上的地址(广阳路)的被申请人。正如AB公司诉CD公司所指出的 “2019716日,……CD公司的代表收到一位X女士的电子邮件,她自称来自‘ABAB工程公司,以前叫AB“)国际公司的合同与法律部‘”。在这封电子邮件中,X女士说AB中东公司的同事转发了CD的电子邮件,并要求提供关于香港国际仲裁中心案件和相关协议的更多细节。

 

第二天,某位Y先生–“来自AB工程中东公司(以前叫AB“)法律部“–写信给CD,说他们2019625日的电子邮件是收到的第一份与香港国际仲裁中心案件有关的信息。因此,以前的信件没有得到适当的送达。Y先生要求CD “提供关于HKIAC/A19089案件的细节,包括正式的仲裁申请、香港国际仲裁中心的确认函和所有先前的正式通信

 

同一天(2019717日),通过电子邮件向AB“发送了一份修正的仲裁通知,指明被申请人为 “AB“也称为AB有限公司。被告没有进一步的跟进。

 

201911月,CD公司向独任仲裁员申请将被申请人的名称修改为“AB 工程公司,声称在被申请人的网站上发现了这一名称的变更,而最终裁决书中认定AB工程公司为被申请人。

 

正如MimmieChan法官所指出的,CD公司提出的假设是不正确的,因为对作为附件2的网站副本进行了审查,事实上,其中没有任何声明表明AB“在重组后已成为AB工程公司……”。此外,裁决书指出,网站上的唯一信息是

 

油气管道局,AB公司的前身 “后来改制为中国某公司;1992年,公司 “更名为 “AB1999年,AB局改制为专业管道工程公司,2017年,“AB工程(AB公司)改制后成立

 

AB工程公司申请撤销该裁决,称其不属于该协议的一部分。它声称,AB工程公司和AB局是两个独立的法律实体,尽管两者都是中国石油天然气集团公司的子公司,在签订协议时,AB工程公司是AB局的子公司。尽管如此,它们有不同的社会信用代码和不同的注册日期。

 

CD试图依靠 “协议定义部分的第1.4条将 “AB “定义为 “AB局或任何其他关联实体 “这一事实。因此,CD公司认为,AB工程公司(作为AB局的一个子公司)必须被视为协议的缔约方。

 

 

在对ABCD的判决中,法官Mimmie Chan—对本案与Giorgio Armani SpAElan Clothes Co Ltd[2019] 2 HKLRD 313)进行了区分认为。

在本案中,协议中没有这种明确的指示,在协议的其他部分也没有提到AB局的任何其他子公司或附属机构,这些部分规定了协议各方的权利和义务。只有明显的AB公司的广泛定义。正如AB工程公司所强调的,在2013年签订协议时,AB局是的一个子公司,而该局有30多家附属公司。没有证据表明AB工程公司在协议的履行、协议赋予的权利或协议规定的义务方面权力和义务。

 

因此,一审法院认为,CD公司与AB工程公司之间不存在仲裁协议,根据《示范法》第34[2][a][i]条,该裁决应予撤销。根据《示范法》第34[2][a][i]条的规定,应当撤销裁决

 

此外,法院强调,被申请人没有收到适当的仲裁通知,因为没有送达正确的地址。当然,适当的通知是 “仲裁中的一个重要步骤,正如裁决中引用的先例之一Sun Tian Gang v HK & China Gas (Jilin)Ltd[2016] 5 HKLRD 221)所强调的那样。根据CD的协议第29.1条。CD公司与AB工程公司之间的协议第29.1条规定,正确的送达地址是 “广阳路,而不是 “广安路,也不是国阳路。仲裁通知书及后续文件已送达广阳路。仲裁通知书和修改后的仲裁通知书中所述的地址是广阳路。此外,后者无论如何都是写给AB局或AB局有限公司的,因为仲裁通知书和修改后的仲裁通知书的地址是国贸路。

 

因此,根据《示范法》第34[2][a][ii]条的规定,应撤销该裁决。34[2][a][ii]《示范法》。

 

法院认为,没有禁止反言的理由(如CD公司所声称的),因为提到2019716日和17日的电子邮件–“CD公司没有依赖所谓的AB工程公司以前是的陈述。相反,CD依靠的是其对AB公司网站的(错误)理解。法院批评了CD的行为,指出:

 

正如本法院在听证会上所指出的,索赔人及其法律顾问有责任确定适当的被告/被申请人,并核实其名称,特别是在提出质疑之后。现在,CD公司及其法律顾问没有理由将CD公司试图提起诉讼的一方名称的任何错误归咎于“AB/AB工程公司的雇员。

 

法官认为,CD所依赖的案例法(SEB Trygg Holding AB v Manches [2005] EWCACiv 1237)对本案来说不是很好的引证。在该案中,被申请人参加了仲裁程序。她依赖英国最高法院法官Mance勋爵在Dallah Co诉巴基斯坦宗教事务部([2011]1 AC 763)一案中的意见,其中指出:

 

一个人如果否认自己是任何相关仲裁协议的一方,就没有义务参加仲裁,也没有义务在他认为是无效的仲裁的所在地采取任何行为应对本该是无效的裁决。

 

因此,原审法院支持AB公司的申请,撤销香港国际仲裁中心的裁决。

 

结论

本案让人清晰地了解,正确识别仲裁的当事人是多么的关键。将每份仲裁文件正确送达当事人的正确地址是非常重要的。

 

每个律师都应牢记这一警告。但仲裁员也应尽可能地检查当事人的身份和联系方式是否准确,特别是送达地址。每个仲裁员的一般职责是作出有效和可执行的裁决,并以具有成本效益和时间效率的方式进行诉讼。

 

仔细检查不仅可以节省时间和金钱。它可以防止有利的裁决被白白浪费。

 

 

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