- Reversal of burden of proof in statutory arbitration without inviting submissions amounted to serious irregularity (Punch Partnerships v Jonalt)
- What are the practical implications of this judgment?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- The burden of proof challenge
- The excess of powers challenge
- The remedy
- Case details
Arbitration analysis: Kelyn Bacon QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court in the Chancery Division, allowed the claimants’ (a pub landlord and a pub-owning business) serious irregularity challenge to an ad hoc arbitration award issued in a statutory arbitration commenced by the tenant defendant under Part 4 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEEA 2015) and the Pubs Code etc Regulations 2016 (the Pubs Code). The court found that the arbitrator’s reversal of the normal burden of proof without inviting submissions from the parties constituted a serious irregularity pursuant to section 68(2)(a) of the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996). The court also found that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers in ordering the claimants to offer a lease to the tenant containing a specific keg stocking requirement, which was contrary to AA 1996, s 68(2)(b). Both forms of serious irregularity were found to have caused the claimants substantial injustice.
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