Indemnity Costs for Initiating Court Proceedings in Breach of Arbitration Clause

I had earlier written about the case for indemnity costs in opposing arbitral awards. This was in the context of costs being awarded on an indemnity basis where there was an unsuccessful attempt at setting aside an award or resisting an enforcement of an award.

In my earlier article, I had pointed out that the English courts may award indemnity costs where proceedings are brought in breach of a binding arbitration agreement. In the High Court decision of A v B (No 2) [2007] EWHC 54 (Comm), court proceedings were stayed as the proceedings were brought in breach of an arbitration agreement. It was held that as the breach had caused the innocent party to incur legal costs, those costs should normally be recoverable on an indemnity basis.

The approach in A v B has now been adopted in Australia in the Supreme Court of Western Australia decision of Pipelines Services WA Pty Ltd v ATCO Gas Australia Pty Ltd [2014] WASC 10. The Court had ordered Pipeline to pay costs on an indemnity basis to ATCO when ATCO had successfully applied for a stay of proceedings under section 8 of the Commercial Arbitration Act 2012.

In making this order, the Court confirmed the application of the principle in the English case of A v B [2007] EWHC 54 that indemnity costs will generally be awarded where a party commences legal proceedings in breach of a contractual obligation to refer a dispute to arbitration.

I am not aware of the Malaysian Courts having determined whether costs on an indemnity basis should be allowed if there is a successful stay of Court proceedings under section 10 of the Arbitration Act 2005. Hopefully this case for indemnity costs can be canvassed before the Courts.

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