London court rejects P&ID’s plea to appeal $11bn judgment

By Taiye Agbaje
 A Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales has refused to grant an application by Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) seeking to appeal the judgement stopping the enforcement of its $11 billion award against Nigeria.
Knowles, in a judgment on Thursday, ruled that the award against Nigeria should be thrown out immediately.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge has, on Oct. 23, halted the enforcement of the award by upholding Nigeria’s prayer that it was obtained by fraud and in violation of Section 68 of the English Arbitration Act 1996.
Knowles held that the contract award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy.
The judge found that P&ID had paid bribes to Nigerian officials involved in the drafting of the gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA) in 2010.
He also found that P&ID was illegally in possession of Nigeria’s privileged legal documents during the arbitration hearings.
However, Knowles said he still had to choose from three options after making his determination.
The options included, “(a) to remit the award to the tribunal, in whole or in part, for reconsideration, (b) to set the award aside in whole or in part, or (c) to declare the award to be of no effect, in whole or in part.”
Nigeria had argued that the award should be set aside in its entirety, invoking the common law principle that “fraud unravels all.”
But in his pronouncement on Dec. 8, Knowles said he had decided against sending the award back to the arbitration tribunal.
He crushed the award in its entirety.
However, P&ID sought permission to appeal the October judgment.
Its lawyers argued that the judge failed to apply a “causation” requirement which would have shown if the arbitration award would still have been made if bribes had not been paid by P&ID to government officials.
They also argued that the privileged documents that were found in P&ID’s possession played no role in its victory at the arbitration.
But delivering the judgment on Thursday, Knowles refused P&ID’s permission to appeal.
NAN observes that the latest development had effectively put an end to the case as the company cannot apply for permission from the Court of Appeal.(NAN)