UK Supreme Court clarifies scope of an appeal under the Arbitration Act

The UK Supreme Court’s decision in Sharp Corp Ltd v Viterra BV [2024] UKSC 14, has clarified the scope of, and limitations to, an appeal of law under section 69 of the English Arbitration Act 1996.

In the earlier Court of Appeal decision the Court had made findings of fact additional to those made by the original Tribunal. These related to a finding that one of the contracts in question had been varied. Further, the Court of Appeal had decided a question of law which had not been put to the Tribunal.

On the second point, the Supreme Court swiftly concluded that a valid appeal requires that “the point has to [have been] fairly and squarely before the arbitration tribunal for determination“. If the issue had not been before the Tribunal in this way the proceedings cannot properly be an “appeal” on that point.

On the question of whether a court hearing an appeal has the authority to make findings of fact, this point was also dealt with quickly by the Supreme Court at [71]:

The court’s jurisdiction under section 69 of the Act is limited to appeals on questions of law. It has no jurisdiction in relation to errors of fact and no power to make its own findings of fact“.

The decision is a clear statement of the limits of an appeal under section 69 of the Arbitration Act and serves as helpful guidance.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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