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Meaning of the term "arbitration" in dual-language contracts

07 October 2015

Authors: Nathalie Voser; Anna Kozmenko

In a French­-language decision dated 15 September 2015 and published on 7 October 2015, the Swiss Supreme Court upheld an award in which a sole arbitrator had found that he had jurisdiction despite a poorly drafted dispute resolution clause contained in a contract drawn up in English and Russian. The petitioner, who had raised the jurisdictional objection in the arbitration, had previously objected to state court litigation arguing that the parties had, in fact, agreed to arbitration.
This case demonstrates that one or more poorly drafted dispute resolution clauses can result in significant loss of time and expense, even if ultimately the parties succeed in seizing a forum that will adjudicate their claims. The case also offers a lesson on the risk of dual­-language contracts, in this case on the meaning of the Russian term "arbitrazh". (Decision 4A_136/2015.)

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Published in Practical Law Arbitration



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