The High Court (Sir Andrew Smith sitting as a Judge of the High Court) dismissed a challenge to a $43.2 million arbitration award in which the claimants had brought challenges under s.24 and s.68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 alleging apparent bias of the LCIA tribunal and serious irregularity.

The award had been obtained by Angophora Holdings Limited, a company jointly owned by Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.a., an Italian bank, and Gazprombank JSC. The underlying arbitration award related to a joint venture between Angophora and Retemmy Finance Limited, in respect of a group which provides oil and gas equipment and services. An LCIA Tribunal of the consisting of Dr Georg von Segesser (as Chairman), Sir Jeremy Cooke and Mr Khawar Qureshi QC made an Award in December 2020 in which they held that Retemmy’s ultimate owner, Mr Ovsyankin, had orchestrated various fraudulent schemes which caused losses to Angophora.

Mr Ovsyankin and Retemmy challenged this award in the High Court, as well as the appointment of the Tribunal to two related arbitrations in which Angophora was the claimant. The arbitral challenges were brought under s.24 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in respect of alleged apparent bias on the part of the Tribunal, as well as s.64 of the Act, in respect of alleged serious irregularity leading to substantial injustice. The claim alleged, among other things, that the Tribunal had made the Award on the basis of matters which were not properly put to the parties.

Sir Andrew Smith rejected both challenges, holding that all relevant matters had been pleaded by Angophora and in any event they had been ‘in play’ in the arbitration hearings and the parties submissions. Permission to appeal was refused.

James Duffy and Jacob Turner acted for Angophora, both in the LCIA arbitration and the subsequent High Court Challenge. They were led by Michael Swainston QC of Brick Court Chambers, and instructed by Enyo Law LLP.