Delayed proceedings

Delayed proceedings. The arbitral tribunal may dismiss a claim if the tribunal is satisfied that there has been inordinate and inexcusable delay on the part of the claimant in pursuing his claim(s. 41). It is clear, therefore, that the tribunal’s job is now not viewed as being only to decide the merits of the dispute. Arbitrators had no power to dismiss for want of prosecution until 1st January 1992, when such power was given under s. 13A of the Arbitration Act 1950 (inserted by s. 102 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990). In The Boucraa (1993) the Court of Appeal ruled that the power is not retrospective, meaning that the period of delay which the arbitrators may take into account, in exercising their power of dismissal, is only that occurring after 1 January 1992. This is not, however, to say that the statutory section is not applicable to arbitrations entered into before 1 January 1992. On appeal, to the House of Lords, their Lordships, however, ruled that the power to dismiss a claim for delay granted to arbitrators by section 13A of the Arbitration Act 1950 is partially retrospective. This means that, in deciding whether to exercise their new power, arbitrators may take into account delay by the claimant in pursuing his claim before the date on which the new statutory power came into force (i.e. 1 January 1992). The result of this final appeal has been criticised as ‘surprising’, as it tends to offend against the principle of non-retroactivity, i.e. that it is, on the face of it, a rule of construction of the common law that a statute should not be interpreted retrospectively if, thereby, it would adversely affect an existing right or obligation, unless that result is unavoidable on the language used.