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来源:临时仲裁ADA发布时间:2019-04-09 17:32:11

关于仲裁裁决法律问题的司法审查程序

2019年3月27日,在Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd and Others v The Hong Kong Housing Authority [2019] HKCA 369一案中(判决请见:“阅读原文”),本案原告(也是仲裁败诉方)向法院提出就法律问题而针对仲裁裁决提出上诉的许可的申请,原讼法庭予以拒绝;根据香港《仲裁条例》附表2第6(5)条规定,原告又请求法院准予其对该拒绝裁定提出上诉,法院予以准许;针对该准予裁定,原被告同时向香港高等法院上诉法庭提出上诉,由于二者主体内容一致,法院决定将两项上诉请求合并审理,并最终决定分别予以驳回原被告的上诉请求(“I respectfully agree with the judgment of Cheung JA and for the reasons he shall give, both appeals are dismissed and a costs order nisi as per[10] in this judgment.”)。

一、案情介绍

本案被告方香港政府机构房屋署(Hong Kong HousingAuthority)(以下简称“被告”)专责管理香港公共房屋,与原告方Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd等7家建筑公司(以下简称“原告”)签订了21份建造合同,由原告方负责对其管理的房屋进行维修和翻新工程,在合同履行阶段发出工作命令(Work Orders)并指示具体工作任务。在此期间,被告发出内容为更换房屋滑动窗铰链的工作命令。

后双方对该工作命令下的相关工程(Relevant Work)的估价发生争议。当事双方之间的合同载有费率表(Schedule of Rates),双方均同意工程定价应根据费率表进行估价,但对工程估价适用的具体费率存在分歧。原告将该争议提交至仲裁机构,但仲裁庭最终作出了有利于被告的仲裁裁决,支持由被告主张的工程估价费率。

原告对仲裁庭作出仲裁裁决中的法律问题持有异议,向香港原讼法庭(Court)提出就法律问题而针对仲裁裁决提出上诉的许可的申请,但原讼法庭拒绝批予上诉许可(以下简称“拒绝裁定”)。

根据香港《仲裁条例》附表2第6(5)条规定,原告又提出针对该拒绝裁定的上诉许可申请,法院予以批准(以下简称“准予裁定”)。针对该准予裁定,原被告双方分别提出上诉。

二、法院认定

(一)驳回原告的上诉请求

根据法官在“拒绝裁定”作出的认定,相关仲裁裁决是根据案件事实和具体工作程序,以及对合同具体条款解释的基础上做出的,法院并不认为本案所涉合同条文具有一般含义上的约束力,使其所提出的法律问题不仅是针对原告,而是一个“普遍重要”(of general importance)的问题;也并不认为仲裁员的裁决是“明显错误的”(obviously wrong)。即使本案所涉问题属于普遍重要的问题,法院也不认为仲裁员在本案的裁决存在“严重的怀疑”(serious doubt)(“The Award is on the construction of specific words in provisions of the Contracts, in the context of the facts and particular work procedures of this case. I am not persuaded that the Award has binding effect on the general meaning of these provisions, to render the question of law raised to be one of general importance, beyond the Plaintiffs who dispute the valuation of the Defendant. The test should be whether the decision of the Arbitrator is “obviously wrong”, and I find that it is not. Even if the question is one of general importance, I am not satisfied that the decision of the Arbitrator in this case is open to “serious doubt”.’”)。

针对该裁定,原告提出该法院在仲裁裁决是否存在“明显错误”的认定上存在错误。对此,本法院认为原告的主张不应予以支持,认定理由如下:

首先,原告主张原审法院错误地认定案件所涉问题不具有普遍重要性,并错误地使用了“明显错误”的检验标准,而非“严重怀疑”的检验标准(“the Judge wrongly found that the question was not one of general importance, and therefore wrongly held that the applicable test was whether the arbitrator’s decision was ‘obviously wrong’ instead of ‘at least open to serious doubt’”)。对此,本法院认定,根据英国法院在CMA CGM SA v Beteiligungs-KG MS “Northern Pioneer”Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Co and others [2003] 1 WLR 1015一案提及的“严重怀疑”检验标准中采用有力的初步案例分析方法并不再具有可适用性,理由是该方法与1996年《英国仲裁法》中的相关措辞已不相符(“I accept that it is nolonger appropriate to rely on the strong prima facie case approach for the ‘serious doubt’ test as it was held in The Northern Pioneer to be inconsistent with the wording of the 1996 Arbitration Act.”)。即使如此,法院仍应检验该判决是否具有“明显的错误”(plainly wrong),但本案中,法院认为原审法官关于仲裁裁决是否正确的认定并不存在明显的错误(“In the present case, I do not consider that the Judge had been plainly wrong on the result of the ‘serious doubt’ test because it is clear that the Judge in [22] of her judgment had accepted the correctness of the arbitrator’s decision although she did not have to go as far as that for the purpose of considering whether leave should be granted.”)。

其次,本法院认同原审法官的观点,即本案适用“明显错误”的检验标准是适当的,且认为法官并未错误地将“明显错误”的检验标准和“严重怀疑”的检验标准混为一谈。该法官还指出,根据判例Maeda Kensetsu KogyoKabushiki Kaisha (also known as Maeda Corporation) v. China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited and others (‘Maeda Corporation’) HCMP 1342/2017,“严重怀疑”的检验标准的门槛仍然较高(“As I agree with the Judge that the ‘obviously wrong’ test is the appropriate test, the argument now raised is academic. In any event, I do not regard the Judge had wrongly conflated the two tests. All that she meant is that the threshold for the ‘serious doubt’ test remains to be high by referring to Maeda Corporation at[18].”)。

最后,关于本案所涉的合同解释问题,原告还主张原审法官并未采取适当的方式解释合同,以及仲裁员的裁决是明显错误的,或至少存在严重的怀疑(“Mr Coleman referred to Arnold and Joseph Lo Kin Ching and argued that the Judge had failed to undertake the requisite iterative process of contractual construction, and failed to realise that any reasonable man to whom the contracts were addressed would have understood the Relevant Works to be payable under Rates 1 to 5 inclusive (as opposed to Rates 1 to 3 only), and the arbitrator’s decision was obviously wrong or at least ‘open to serious doubt’.”)。对此,本法院并不予以认同,并提出在本案中,原审法官并不须重新解释案件所涉合同(“I disagree. How a judge conducts the iterative process of contractual interpretation must be considered in the context of the case. This is not a case where the Judge was required to carry out the contractual interpretation afresh as if she was dealing with the matter for the first time.”)。

据此,法院驳回原告针对拒绝裁定的上诉请求(“Accordingly, I would dismiss CACV 338/2018.”)。

(二)驳回被告上诉请求

根据香港《仲裁条例》附表2第6(5)条规定,凡原讼法庭决定批予或拒绝批予上诉许可,则须获原讼法庭或上诉法庭许可,方可针对该决定提出上诉(“The leave of the Court or the Court of Appeal is required for any appeal from a decision of the Court to grant or refuse leave to appeal.”)。在本案中,原告就仲裁裁决法律问题提出上诉的许可申请被原讼法院驳回后,有权再向原讼法庭或上诉法庭申请针对“拒绝裁定”的上诉许可。在没有任何明文规定的情况下,被告针对“准予裁定”提出的上诉请求并不存在司法依据(“In the absence of any express statutory provision, there is no jurisdictional basis for an appeal under CACV 431/2018 to be lodged.”),故予以驳回。

三、评论

在香港仲裁法中,关于仲裁裁决法律问题的司法审查程序的相关法律规定,本公众号此前在其推送的文章《香港法院驳当事人就仲裁裁决法律问题提出的上诉请求》中已做了相关介绍。根据香港《仲裁条例》附表2第6(4)条的规定,就法律问题而针对仲裁裁决提出上诉的许可申请,原讼法院在信纳以下各项情况下,方可批予上诉许可:(a)有关问题的决定,会对一方或多于一方的权利,造成重大影响;(b)有关问题是仲裁庭被要求决定的问题;及(c)基于裁决中对事实的裁断——(i)仲裁庭对该问题的决定,是明显地错误的;或(ii)该问题有广泛的重要性,而仲裁庭的决定最起码令人有重大疑问。依据该条,仲裁当事人可向原讼法庭申请上诉许可。根据第6(5)条规定,原讼法庭不论是予以准许或是拒绝,当事人如若想对该决定提出上诉,需要首先获原讼法庭或上诉法庭许可,这也是本案所涉的主要程序性事项。

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