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April 21, 2016
Under normal circumstances the general rule is that an arbitration award shall be valid only if signed on all pages by the arbitrator. However the exception to this rule is that the arbitrator's signature on the last page alone of the award shall suffice provided the last page contains a part of the reasoning of the award.
The significance of the rule is that by countersigning on all pages of the final award the arbitrator(s) provide conclusive evidence that the award has been issued by the arbitrator(s). However, if the last page includes part of the reasoning behind the decision/final award, the validity of the signature on the last page shall extend to the full award.
The claimant in the case filed a civil case requesting ratification of a Dubai International Arbitration Center (DIAC) arbitration award to enforce the respondent to pay the awarded amount of 20.2 million AED and an additional amount of 710,700 AED as conditional interest.
The Court of First Instance accepted the claimant's request and proceeded to ratify the award.
The respondent in the case appealed the decision of the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the Court of First Instance.
The Claimant then brought the appeal to the Court of Cassation requesting to set aside the Court of Appeal judgment and uphold the CFI judgment.
Grounds of appeal
It was submitted by the claimant that the Court of Appeal decided to nullify the judgment since all pages of the arbitration award were not signed by the arbitrator except the last page. The entire reasoning of the award was contained in 23 pages preceding the last page of the 24 pages long award. The court observed that the last page did not contain any details about the reasoning/details of the decision.
However the claimant submitted that the last page of the award contained the words "according to previously mentioned reasoning..." and accordingly argued that the reasoning of the arbitrator's award was attached to the last page. He further submitted that that the copy submitted to the DIAC was signed on all pages by all arbitrators and requested for the same to be produced.
Court of Cassation judgment
The Court held that under Article 212/5 of the Civil Procedures Law of the UAE an arbitration awards shall be valid only if signed on all pages by the Arbitrator. The final award issued by the arbitrator shall contain the award itself and the reasoning which led to the decision. The only exception to above rule is if part of the reasoning to the award is contained in the last page of the award. This rule is in accordance with public order. Accordingly the court observed in its judgment that the failure to sign on all pages of the award suggests a gap between the arbitrator and the final award.
The court also relied strongly on the fact that nearly half of page 23 of the award was left blank and the page 24 started with the words, "according to previous mentioned reason...". The court ruled that such reference to the reasoning of arbitrator does not satisfy the rule for exception, thereby rendering the award null and void. In reply to the other request raised by the claimant to enforce the other party to provide the award documents in its possession which allegedly contained the signatures of all parties, the Court ruled that the lower court was not obliged to entertain such a request since the claimant failed to furnish satisfactory evidence to think that the copies provided were different.