Arbitration Law

Chapter 21



Judicial review prior to the Arbitration Act 1979

21.1 The history of judicial control over errors of law in arbitration awards has been expertly traced elsewhere.1 It is sufficient in the present text to consider the situation immediately before the passing of the Arbitration Act 1979. At that time, two forms of judicial review of awards were in operation. The first was error of law on the face of the record. This jurisdiction was widely recognised as arbitrary and complex, in that it was frequently a matter of chance whether the alleged error appeared on the face of the record and in that the rules that determined what constituted the face of the record were highly technical. The unpopularity of the jurisdiction led to the frequently adopted practice of requiring arbitrators to give their reasons not in the award itself but in a separate document which was expressed to be confidential to the parties. This prevented the reasons from being brought before the High Court for the purposes of a substantive appeal, although it did not prevent the court from scrutinising the confidential document to determine whether there had been fraud or misconduct.2

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