Flashbird Ltd v Compagnie de Securite Privee et Industrielle SARL Mauritius 2021 UKPC 32 - 13 December 2021
This is an appeal as of right from the decision of the Supreme Court of Mauritius to dismiss the application of the appellant, Flashbird Ltd, to set aside an arbitration award under section 39(2)(a)(iv) of the International Arbitration Act 2008 (“the Act”).
The dispute referred to arbitration arose out of a consultancy contract entered into in March/April 2013 under which the appellant was to assist the respondent, Compagnie de Sécurité Privée et Industrielle SARL, in obtaining a contract for the management and development of security and safety services at international airports in the Republic of Madagascar.
On 24 August 2016 the respondent filed a request for arbitration with the Secretariat of the Arbitration and Mediation Center (“MARC”) of the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The request sought judicial termination of the consultancy contract due to the appellant’s alleged non-performance of its contractual obligations, the refund of payments made by the respondent and damages.
On 28 October 2016 MARC designated Dr Jalal El Ahdab as sole arbitrator to determine the dispute. The appellant objected to the appointment of a sole arbitrator and on 13 December 2016 applied to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague (“PCA”) under section 12 of the Act to seek the appointment of a tribunal of three arbitrators. This application was rejected by the PCA as set out in a letter from its legal counsellor of 21 December 2016.
The arbitration proceeded without the participation of the appellant. On 24 October 2017 the arbitrator issued a final arbitral award terminating the contract and awarding the respondent repayment of EUR80,000 and USD15,000, damages of €24,000 and arbitration and legal costs.
By a notice of motion dated 18 December 2017 the appellant applied to the Supreme Court to set aside the award pursuant to section 39(2)(a)(iv) of the Act on the grounds that the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties. The appellant contended that on the proper interpretation of the arbitration agreement the arbitral procedure, and in particular the constitution of the tribunal, should have been in accordance with the rules of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) rather than the rules of MARC.
In its judgment dated 30 November 2018 the Supreme Court dismissed the appellant’s application.