Are you unhappy with your arbitration award?

By Sharusha Moodley

A party who is dissatisfied with an arbitration award may seek to have it reviewed on limited grounds.

It is important to note that the grounds for reviewing an arbitration award are limited and that a party cannot seek to have the award reviewed simply because they disagree with it.

The Sidumo v Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd [2007]ZACC 22 case is a landmark decision that provides guidance on the standard of review to be applied in cases where an arbitration award is being challenged.

The Sidumo test, as it has come to be known, requires the court to consider two questions when reviewing an arbitration award:

  1. Whether the arbitrator’s decision was one that a reasonable decision-maker could have made in the circumstances. This question requires the court to consider whether the arbitrator took into account all relevant facts and applicable law, and whether the decision was rational and justifiable.
  2. Whether the decision was one that a reasonable arbitrator could have made. This question requires the court to consider the specific context of the dispute, including the nature of the parties’ relationship, the nature of the dispute, and the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreement or employment contract.

The Sidumo test emphasises the importance of respecting the role of the arbitrator as an expert decision-maker and of giving regard to the arbitrator’s decision unless it is clearly unreasonable.

Before seeking to have an arbitration award reviewed, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who is experienced to determine whether there are grounds for review and what the prospects of success may be.

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