Arbitration awards may be enforced within 12 years of registration

 
On November 3 2014 the Federal Court held that an arbitration award may be enforced within 12 years of the date on
which the award is registered as a judgment of court.
 
In Christopher Martin Boyd v Des Brata Das Gupta (W-03(IM)-114-03/2013), the Federal Court decided that the
applicable limitation provision to an arbitration award that has been registered as a judgment of court is Section 6(3) of
the Limitation Act 1953. Accordingly, the arbitration award may be enforced within 12 years of the date on which the
award is registered as a judgment of the court. This ruling overturns an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in the same
matter, which held that the applicable limitation provision is Section 6(1)(c) of the Limitation Act 1953, pursuant to which
the arbitration award must be enforced within six years of issuance by the arbitral tribunal.
 
The appellant in Christopher Martin Boyd obtained an arbitration award on January 4 2000. This was registered as a
judgment of the High Court on January 19 2004. Bankruptcy proceedings were then commenced on April 4 2012, more
than 12 years after the award had been issued and some eight years after the 2004 judgment.
 
In submissions before the Federal Court, the appellant argued that the ‘action’ on an award under Section 6(1)(c) of the
Limitation Act 1953 refers to registration of the award at the High Court, not its enforcement through execution or
bankruptcy proceedings. On this basis, the appellant had six years to register the award (pursuant to Section 6(1)(c)) and a
further 12 years from registration of the award to execution or bankruptcy proceedings thereon (pursuant to Section 6(3)).
Otherwise, a party which chose arbitration over litigation before the Malaysia courts would effectively be faced with a
shorter period for the enforcement of its award. The appeal was allowed.
 
In allowing the appeal, the Federal Court has given equal treatment, insofar as the statute of limitations is concerned, to a
judgment arising from registration of an arbitral award and a judgment pronounced at the conclusion of a court-
conducted litigation.

This article is authored by:

Gan Khong Aik
Partner
Gan Partnership
E: khongaik@ganlaw.my

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Lee Sze Ching (Ashley)
Associate
Gan Partnership
E: szeching@ganlaw.my

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