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More formally known as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, the New York Convention 1958 (which came into force 7 June 1959) is arguably the most important factor in the viability and effectiveness of international commercial arbitration.

Practical effect of the New York Convention

As any lawyer will tell their client, there is usually no good commercial reason to sue “a man of straw”. Put simply, there is no point bringing any proceedings if you cannot enforce them. What the New York Convention does is create a system of arbitration enforcement that is recognised worldwide. There are 168 parties to the New York Convention, which is far more than any other treaty or convention that recognises foreign judgments.

Practically speaking, what this means is that if a party that is a member or located in a member state that is a signatory of the New York Convention, that Award will be automatically recognised and enforceable in other contracting states. Thus, if a losing party does not voluntarily meet the Award against it, the winning party would be able to enforce that award locally.

Other important issues covered by the New York Convention

The New York Convention also provides for other important matters, such as that the arbitration agreement is “in writing”, and how to ensure the award is recognised and enforceable.

For example:

  • Article V provides that recognition and enforcement of the award may be refused on certain grounds, such as if the arbitral procedure was undertaken in a manner not in accordance with the agreement of the parties, or
  • if the party against whom the award is invoked was not given proper notice of the appointment of the arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present his case.

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