The Court of Appeal has given attorneys representing Petrotrin a second chance to challenge a $74 million arbitration award.
Appellate Judges Peter Rajkumar and James Aboud recently upheld Petrotrin’s appeal against a judge’s decision to reject its application to set aside the arbitration award, pending the determination of its challenge against it.
Last year, Pioneer Construction received two awards by the arbitrator against the former State-company, which was shut down and restructured into other companies in late 2018.
Pioneer Construction sought to enforce the arbitration order before Justice Ricky Rahim but Petrotrin countered by applying under the Arbitration Act to have the orders set aside and stayed pending its legal challenge.
In the challenge, Petrotrin is claiming that the arbitrator misconducted himself and came to conclusions that no reasonable arbitrator would make.
In his ruling, Rahim rejected Petrotrin’s applications, as he ruled it had not demonstrated it had a good prospect of success in its challenge by failing to set out its pleadings of misconduct in its court filings.
Rahim also noted that Petrotrin waited a month after Pioneer sought to enforce the award to challenge it.
He also noted that based on delays in cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could mean that Pioneer would be denied the fruits of their arbitration for an inordinate period.
In the appeal, Petrotrin’s lawyers argued that Rahim misunderstood its application, failed to appreciate its pleadings and provided no analysis in his oral decision.
Delivering the Appeal Court’s ruling on the procedural appeal, Rajkumar said Rahim was plainly wrong to dismiss Petrotrin’s application and uphold Pioneer’s, as he failed to recognise the arbitration award could be set aside once sufficient grounds were raised. Rajkumar also said Rahim did not properly consider whether the arbitration award could stand based on Petrotrin’s complaint.
As Rahim had agreed to recuse himself from the case, Rajkumar stated that another judge wilkl have to hear Petrotrin’s application to set aside the arbitration award.
Rajkumar and Aboud granted a stay against the enforcement of the arbitration pending the determination by the new judge.