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Authored by: Stanley Lo
In Sky Power Construction Engineering Ltd v Iraero Airlines JSC,  HKCFI 1558, the court refused to set aside an enforcement order on the basis that the arbitration was held on a fully virtual basis.
The Applicant had been granted leave to enforce (as a judgment of the court) an arbitral award made in an arbitration seated in London and conducted under the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) Rules (Enforcement Order). The Respondent applied out of time (8 days late) to set aside the Enforcement Order on the ground that the procedure stipulated in the arbitrator’s Procedural Order was altered by the tribunal on the Applicant’s initiative, despite the Respondent’s objections, and instead of the parties all convening at one location in Moscow, the hearing of the arbitration took place on a “fully virtual basis”, with the parties, counsel and tribunal engaging in the hearing from their respective locations, the Respondent, its witnesses and representatives attending in Moscow, the arbitrator sitting in London, and the Applicant’s witnesses and legal representatives attending in Irkutsk.
In deciding whether to grant the Respondent an extension of time to apply to set aside the Enforcement Order, the court considered the merits of the setting aside application and concluded that such application had no merit because:
Accordingly, the court concluded that there was no permissible ground to set aside the Enforcement Order and refuse recognition of the Award. Whilst the merits of challenging an award made in similar circumstances will be fact specific, this case provides a useful indication of the Court’s attitude towards challenges relating to virtual hearings.
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