In AIC Ltd v Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria  UKSC 16, Riaz Hussain QC and Omar Eljadi were successful in an appeal to the Supreme Court. They achieved a unanimous setting aside of the Court of Appeal’s order for enforcement of an arbitral award for over USD$130 million.
The case involved an important and far-reaching question of how under the Civil Procedure Rules a Judge is entitled to exercise a discretion to vary a delivered judgment prior to the judgment being perfected by way of sealing.
This is a case with far-reaching application that required careful submission on a Judge’s role, the meaning of the overriding objective and the role of the appellate Judge. As Lord Sales and Lord Briggs note “This problem may arise at all levels in civil litigation, from interim and case management hearings, to final orders made at the end of a trial and even to orders made, but not yet sealed on appeal.”
Their submissions achieved permission to appeal from the Supreme Court and a stay on the Court of Appeal’s Judgment pending the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court. A stay on a Court of Appeal Judgment is an exceptional result and one that was of great benefit to the Appellant as it protected their assets being the subject of enforcement pending the appeal.
The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal was in error in finding there was a mandatory two stage test to reconsideration namely (1) whether it was right to entertain the application to re–consider at all; and, if it was, (2) consider the application on its merits. As per the Court “That would in our view be to impose a straitjacket upon the judicial exercise of a discretionary jurisdiction which is contrary to the way in which it was addressed in Re L and alien to the essentially flexible nature of the judge’s task when weighing competing considerations of potentially limitless variety against each other.”
Riaz and Omar are experienced in matters concerning the New York Convention, the Arbitration Act 1996 and Civil Procedure. They were instructed by Timi Balogun, Peter Stewart and Sara Love of Squire Patton Boggs.