Published 29 November 2022
Public policy defences to arbitration awards are so robust when they succeed that the award creditor is usually left with a worthless piece of paper after a successful arbitration. Public Policy defences act as complete shields against the enforcement of an award if they contain proven acts of bribery and corruption. Fraud and corruption allegations have formed the thrust of Nigeria’s defence to the arbitral awards rendered against it by a London seated tribunal between 2015 and 2017. This article examines the public policy defences of fraud and corruption in answer to proceedings to enforce an international arbitral award. After a summary of the background facts giving rise to the dispute; the article examines public policy as a general defence mechanism; and then fraud and corruption as defences within the public policy defence apparatus. The article concludes that although, public policy defences are rarely countenanced by national courts as valid reasons to refuse the enforcement of arbitral awards; they remain an effective bar against arbitral awards in situations where fraud and corruption are manifestly proven as being the object and content of the underlying contract. The available evidence suggests that P&ID could face a herculean task to prove that it was entitled to enforcement of its awards against Nigeria.