Judgment in the Svea Court of Appeal, 19 February 2016. Case No. T 5296-14
Summary: The Respondent to the arbitration challenged the award claiming that the award should either be annulled pursuant to section 33(2) of the Swedish Arbitration Act or alternatively set aside in full pursuant to section 34(2).
The challenging party argued that the tribunal was not impartial in its handling of the case and did not abide by the principle of equal treatment of the parties. They argued additionally that the Tribunal had made several procedural errors that affected the outcome of the case. These claimed procedural errors related to, amongst other things, document production, denying an inspection request, unfair and biased assessment of evidence and allowing one side to submit new evidence prior to, and during, the hearing. The challenging party further argued there was unequal treatment of the parties in that the tribunal intervened in witness examination to the benefit of one party. The challenging party claimed that these actions had deprived it of the opportunity to argue its case and that this alleged excess of mandate directly affected the outcome of the arbitration.
The responding party to the challenge claimed that the tribunal had acted entirely in accordance with the arbitration agreement, the applicable rules and the law. They further argued that the parties had been given reasonable opportunities to present their cases and provide rebuttal evidence where necessary. Both parties were provided with the same opportunity and therefore the tribunal had not breached the principle of equal treatment.
The Court dismissed the challenge in its entirety. Pursuant to the Court’s reasoning nothing in the tribunal’s conduct in the handling of the evidence or the conduct of the hearings constituted an excess of mandate or breached the principle of equal treatment. The Court noted that it is not possible to attack the substantive examination of an arbitral tribunal except in exceptional circumstances, no such circumstances existed in this case. The tribunal has a duty to manage a dispute in an effective and expeditious manner. The denial of requests such as extensions of time or inspections in this context does not result in a finding that the tribunal treated the parties contrary to the principle of equal treatment. The tribunal had not exceeded its mandate.