British court upholds Nigeria’s challenge against controversial mega-award

The English High Court upheld Nigeria’s challenge against controversial awards in favour of Process & Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) by finding significant irregularities in the arbitration process. The arbitration awards in P&ID v. Nigeria had condemned Nigeria to pay approximately USD 10 billion, including interest, in a dispute over an investment project that had not even begun operation. The ruling centred on bribery and fraud, uncovering P&ID’s dishonest conduct in obtaining a gas plant contract and manipulating the arbitration. The court highlighted P&ID’s bribes to a senior government official and its improper retention of privileged legal documents. Justice Robin Knowles emphasized three key irregularities: concealing bribery, continuous payments to keep a key witness silent, and improper document retention. While the judgment didn’t set aside the awards immediately, it directed further debate on their fate. The case underlines the need for improved contract drafting, efficient legal representation, and transparency in arbitration. The court emphasized the importance of integrity and public scrutiny in major arbitrations involving states. This decision raises awareness about maintaining ethical standards, effective legal counsel, and the role of transparency in preventing fraudulent use of arbitration.