Enforcement of the Award: One of the most important benefits of international arbitration is the relative ease of enforcement of arbitral awards. Under the New York Convention, a global regime for recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards covering 150 countries, local courts in contracting states are required to recognise and enforce foreign awards issued in other contracting states as though they were judgments of the local courts, subject to a limited number of grounds for refusing enforcement. The New York Convention regime allows an award creditor to pursue assets located almost anywhere in the world. There is no equivalent global regime allowing recognition and enforcement of court judgments, other than the Brussels I Regulation (recast), Lugano Convention or EU-Denmark agreement for Europe and a limited number of bilateral enforcement treaties between individual countries.

That said, while the New York Convention allows very limited grounds to refuse enforcement, in some jurisdictions the interpretation of such grounds to deny enforcement can be rather broad, particularly the interpretation of “public policy”.

One such refusal occurred in October 2013, when all three of the Dubai courts, having considered the applicability of the New York Convention, refused to recognise and enforce two ICC arbitration awards on the ground that, under the UAE’s procedural laws, the Dubai Court of Cassation does not have jurisdiction to hear the case (Case No. 156/2013 Civil Cassation).

Sections 101-103 of the Arbitration Act incorporate into English law the provisions for the recognition and enforcement of awards under the New York Convention. English courts have a pro-enforcement attitude to arbitration awards and will only rarely refuse to enforce them, usually on public policy grounds. For example, in the case of Westacre Investments Inc v Jugoimport SDPR Holding Co Ltd [2000] Q.B. 288 enforcement was ordered despite public policy considerations in respect of an alleged illegality. In Dallah Real Estate & Tourism Holding Co v Pakistan [2010] UKSC 46; [2011] 1 A.C. 763, however, the English Supreme Court refused enforcement of an ICC award on the grounds that the defendant was not a party to the arbitration agreement.