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Court agrees to terminate arbitration in legal dispute

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Judgement delivered: Supreme Court Justice Larry Mussenden (File photograph)

The Supreme Court has granted an application by Fireminds Operations Limited to terminate arbitration proceedings between the company and Bermuda Investment Advisory Services Limited.

Arbitration proceedings were initiated by BIAS in September 2019 to settle a dispute arising from an IT master service agreement and statement of works between Fireminds, the technology service provider, and BIAS, the investment firm, that were effective in December 2018.

The agreement provided for binding and conclusive arbitration where they could not settle a dispute.

Such arbitration was to be concluded within 120 days of the date that service of the written notice of arbitration was given.

However, starting in October 2019, several attempts to appoint an arbitrator were unsuccessful.

In September 2021, Fireminds applied to the court to terminate the arbitration proceedings on the basis of delay.

The court granted an injunction, preventing the arbitration from going ahead until the determination of the termination application.

Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden heard the matter on November 30, and has delivered his decision in a 21-page judgment.

Mr Justice Mussenden wrote: “In my view, the plaintiff’s application to terminate the arbitration proceedings should be granted on the basis that the delay was intentional and vexatious pursuant to section 39(3)(a) of the (Arbitration) Act (1986).”

He further granted Fireminds’ application for an order prohibiting BIAS from commencing further arbitration proceedings in respect of any matter which is the subject of the terminated arbitration proceedings, and declined BIAS’s extension application.

Richard Horseman of Wakefield Quin, representing Fireminds, argued before the court in November that delays regarding the matter were due to BIAS, which he said had a duty under the Arbitration Act 1986 to proceed with the arbitration with due diligence.

Commenting on the judgment, Mr Horseman said: “Wakefield Quin is obviously pleased that Fireminds was successful in terminating the arbitration proceedings brought by BIAS.

“We are grateful to the learned Judge for his ruling on the matter which not only brings these arbitration proceedings to an end, but prohibits BIAS from commencing any new arbitration proceedings against our client.

“This case highlights that where parties have provided for a speedy dispute resolution procedure by way of arbitration, it is the duty of the claimant to exercise due diligence and get on with the arbitration in an expeditious manner.

“The Court rejected the reasons given by BIAS for delaying the arbitration and found that BIAS intentionally delayed the arbitration proceedings and that the delay was vexatious.

“In the circumstances of this case, the learned Judge was right to bring this arbitration to an end and our client is grateful for this long saga to be brought to a final and successful conclusion.”

Grateful: Richard Horseman of Wakefield Quin (File photograph)

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Published December 22, 2022 at 8:06 am (Updated December 22, 2022 at 8:06 am)

Court agrees to terminate arbitration in legal dispute

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