Award 1229 – 2nd degree – Liner agency agreement – Arbitration clause – Referral to a civil court – English law – CAMP competence (partial). A liner agency agreement included an arbitration clause providing to refer to arbitration any dispute arising under the agreement however adding that this did not waive the right of the Owner to sue the agent in other courts in case of default by the Agent. The Owner having put an end to the contract, claimed the Agent had not returned to him freights recovered on his behalf. On his side, the Agent considered he was due some expenses resulting from the contract fulfilment and instituted several proceedings against the Owner before a court of his country. Then, the Owner put a claim before the same court in order to recover the sums which he considered were due by the Agent. Sometime after, the Owner referred the claim to CAMP. The parties were opposed on the CAMP competence; the Owner considering the arbitration clause authorized him to refer simultaneously to CAMP and another court when the Agent asserted CAMP was not competent as soon as the Owner chooses to refer firstly the dispute to another court.
Relying upon the English jurisprudence, the Arbitral Tribunal judged an arbitration clause had to reflect the clear will of the parties and that before the diverging opinions on the precise meaning of the clause, it deemed authorized to reject the Owner’s one which within a commercial background, challenged the business common sense. Consequently it declared not to be competent on the part of the claim referred to the civil court but it allowed the part relating to items not submitted to it and condemned the Agent to pay the Owner the claimed amount less commission.