FACTS OF THE CASE
A dispute adjudication board (DAB) had ruled to pay the adjudicated amount of money quickly. The CRW had submitted several contractual variation claims against the Employer (PGN) to the DAB. After which, the CRW attempted to enforce the DAB's judgment to do so using arbitration. The majority of the arbitral panel granted an interim award that CRW then tried to enforce in Singapore, after which a decision would be rendered.
The majority of the Court concluded that an interim judgment that deals with a preliminary issue are enforceable, in contrast to a provisional award, which is only granted to shield a party from harm. At the same time, the arbitration is being completed (which award was not capable of being enforced). In the final ruling on the PGN case, the Interim Award confirmed CRW's claim that it should be paid the amounts shown in the DAB's judgment quickly.
The Court's judgment is significant because it guides characterising different sorts of enforceable tribunal decisions instead of decisions that, while their classification is couched in words about enforceability, are not enforceable.
· Whether CRW was entitled to the immediate payment; and
· Whether Perusahaan Gas Negara was entitled to request that the tribunal open and review the decision of the dispute adjudication board.
The supreme court declined to hear the appeal. To expand on the description of multiple award kinds, the Court first defined each type of award. The term used to characterise a “partial” award finishes some of the parties' claims but does not rest.
The terms on which awards are made are not enforceable, and neither may they be contested because of awards. Such an award might be referred to as a temporary award since it is given to safeguard assets.
To determine whether or not the parties' obligations under the FIDIC contract were being met, the Court analyzed the contract's wording, and section 20.4(4) of that contract put a duty on the parties to swiftly implement the DAB's decision. The requirement to arbitrate remained until the arbitration judgment was amended in either a negotiated settlement or an award rendered by an arbitrator.
The Court considered most of the tribunal's view that the Interim Award was intended to be varied by future awards. Still, even if that were their understanding, it did not matter because the operation of Section 19B of the IIA rendered the Interim Award binding and final to the subject, which it decided, in this case, PGN's obligation to pay the adjudicated sum promptly.
The Court further concluded that it was not essential for the Contractor to submit the underlying issue to arbitration simultaneously as the issue over timely payment. It found that PGN's inability to immediately comply with its responsibility to pay constituted a dispute in its own right, capable of being fully resolved by arbitration.
To the extent that this disagrees with the decisions of the preceding two courts, it rejects the findings of the Singapore Court of Appeal and the lower court. But PGN was free to present any of the underlying problems to CRW in any of the ways mentioned above, by initiating an arbitration case on CRW's behalf or by re-filing the arbitration request.
Even if the Contractor did place both disputes before the same tribunal, and even if the tribunal decided to make an interim or partial award which finally resolved the question of whether the adjudicated sum should be paid quickly, the tribunal is still permitted to make a provisional award, in addition to making a final resolution on the question of whether the agreed sum should be paid. Awarding this case as meritless means there will be no need to vary this decision in the future. It should be noted that the partial judgment delivered by the tribunal later in the process made no corrections to the Interim Award; instead, it established a process for further assessment of the merits of the parties' underlying disagreement.
After the review process, the court ruled that an account should be taken if CRW had been found to have overpaid. Thus, CRW could have to reimburse the funds they received. However, for the time being, the Interim Award was binding and enforceable as it respects the matter of a quick payment in conformity with the DAB's judgment.
This decision is a relevant precedent for arbitration contracts that incorporate tiered dispute resolution systems under FIDIC-related contracts or other contracts that may have similar dispute resolution processes. It serves as a powerful caution to those engaged in arbitrations and arbitral tribunals, which possess the authority to make substantive decisions under a contract, to never entrust another person or group with the power to make decisions, or completely relinquish this authority through the endorsement of decisions made previously under a contractual mechanism. An arbitrator serves as a quasi-judicial official, which means that their function is to use their analytical mind to solve the underlying conflict.
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