In our recent blog “Don’t forget about Africa” we discussed that the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum successfully had an USD 11 billion award overturned by the High Court of Justice in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales with the court finding that the arbitration was tainted by fraud and bribery.
The consequential hearing was held on 6 December 2023, with the state seeking that the awards be set aside in full while the claimant sought that the matter be remitted to the tribunal.
In a judgment on 21 December 2023, not only did the High Court of England and Wales find that the award should be set aside, but also that the Process & Industrial Developments Limited (“P&ID”) should not be granted leave to appeal.
In setting aside the award, Justice Knowles found that, the awards had been procured by fraudulent means and were in violation of public policy. Specifically, P&ID had obtained the underlying contact through bribery and perjured itself by concealing this from the tribunal. Further, P&ID partook in continuous bribery with its key witness regarding the circumstances in which the underlying contract had materialised and concealed documents from Nigeria’s legal team. With this in mind, the learned Judge found that the award simply should not have come into existence and set it aside.
Regarding leave to appeal, Justice Knowles stated that the appeal has no prospects of success and, consequently, refused to grant it.
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