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In CJD v. CJE and CJF [2021] SGHC 61, the Singapore High Court considered the proper interpretation and ambit of article 22.1(viii) of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) Rules 2014. Article 22.1(viii) allows consenting third parties to be joined to arbitrations despite the objections of another party to the arbitration, i.e., a ‘forced joinder’.

The Singapore High Court held that (a) article 22.1(viii) requires express written consent from the third party to be joined, and (b) such consent is not established by the third party having signed a generally worded arbitration agreement incorporating institutional arbitration rules that permit forced joinder.

A. What happened between the parties, and what did the tribunal decide?

(1) Background

CJD, CJE, CJF and three other parties entered into a joint venture agreement in 2014 containing an arbitration agreement requiring disputes arising from it to be resolved by arbitration in Singapore under the LCIA Rules. By 2017, disputes had arisen between CJD and CJE on the basis that the former had breached its obligations under the parties’ agreement.

In 2018, CJE commenced an arbitration against CJD under the arbitration agreement in the parties’ agreement. After the arbitration commenced, CJD applied to the tribunal to join CJF as a party to it.

(2) The tribunal rejected CJD’s application due to a lack of consent by CJF

The tribunal rejected CJD’s application on the basis that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to allow a joinder as CJF did not consent to be joined, a requirement of article 22.1(viii).

Article 22.1(viii) empowers tribunals to “allow one or more third persons to be joined in the arbitration as a party provided any such third person and the applicant party have consented to such joinder in writing following the Commencement Date or (if earlier) in the Arbitration Agreement”, even if another party to the arbitration objects to the joinder.

CJD subsequently applied to the Singapore High Court to set aside or reverse the tribunal’s decision. The court considered the application under section 10(3)(b) of the International Arbitration Act (Cap 143A, 2002 Rev Ed), which is the only provision of the International Arbitration Act applicable to negative rulings by a tribunal on its own jurisdiction.