Dallah: the death knell for deference?
This paper examines the decision of the United Kingdom Supreme Court in Dallah Real Estate and Tourism Holding Company v The Minister of Religious Affairs, Government of Pakistan, a rare case where an English court refused enforcement of an international arbitral award under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention). Although in Dallah the United Kingdom Supreme Court acknowledged the trend to limit reconsideration of the findings of arbitral tribunals in fact and in law, the Court considered it was bound to decide the question of validity de novo. Contrary to the tribunal, the Court held the arbitration agreement was not valid under the law to which it was subject and refused enforcement of the arbitral award. This paper analyses how the English Supreme Court decided the legal issues before it. It concludes the English court could have reached the same decision on a more convincing basis. Even where the issue is initial consent, holding the court at the place of enforcement is always bound to decide a matter de novo neither serves the objectives of international commercial arbitration nor is necessary to promote the fundamental integrity of arbitral proceedings.