The Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards: Challenges and Strategies

International arbitral awards play a crucial role in resolving disputes that transcend national borders, providing parties with a neutral and efficient mechanism for settling conflicts. However, the enforcement of these awards poses significant challenges due to the diversity of legal systems, lack of cooperation from losing parties, and external factors such as political instability. In this article, we will explore the obstacles faced in enforcing international arbitral awards and discuss strategies that can be employed to overcome these hurdles.


Definition of international arbitral awards and their importance in resolving cross-border disputes: International arbitral awards are decisions made by arbitral tribunals in the context of cross-border disputes between parties from different countries. These awards are binding and final, providing a resolution to the dispute outside of traditional court systems. They are important because they offer a neutral and efficient method for resolving disputes, often preferred by parties due to confidentiality, flexibility, and expertise of arbitrators. International arbitral awards are enforceable under the New York Convention, which facilitates their recognition and enforcement across multiple jurisdictions.

Overview of the challenges faced in enforcing international arbitral awards: Enforcing international arbitral awards can present challenges due to differences in legal systems, potential resistance from losing parties, and complex procedures for recognition and enforcement. One common challenge is the refusal to enforce awards on grounds such as public policy or procedural irregularities. Additionally, the lack of harmonisation in arbitration laws and varying interpretations of the New York Convention by national courts can create obstacles to enforcement. These challenges can lead to delays and increased costs for parties seeking to enforce arbitral awards.

Explanation of the strategies that can be employed to overcome these challenges: To overcome challenges in enforcing international arbitral awards, parties can employ various strategies. This includes conducting thorough due diligence on potential enforcement jurisdictions to assess their legal frameworks and enforcement practices. Parties can also seek assistance from experienced legal counsel with expertise in international arbitration and enforcement proceedings. Additionally, parties can explore alternative methods such as settlement negotiations or mediation to reach a voluntary resolution with the losing party. By utilising these strategies, parties can navigate the complexities of enforcing international arbitral awards more effectively and efficiently.

Challenges in Enforcement

Differences in legal systems and interpretations across jurisdictions: Differences in legal systems and interpretations across jurisdictions can pose significant challenges in enforcing awards. Each country may have its own set of laws and regulations regarding the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. This can lead to confusion and delays in the enforcement process, especially when there are conflicting interpretations of the relevant legal provisions. In some cases, parties may exploit these differences to resist compliance with the award, making it difficult for the winning party to secure enforcement.

Lack of cooperation from the losing party in complying with the award: Lack of cooperation from the losing party in complying with the award is another common challenge in enforcement. The losing party may refuse to voluntarily satisfy the award, leading to prolonged legal battles and additional costs for the winning party. This lack of cooperation can be driven by various factors, such as financial constraints, strategic considerations, or simply a refusal to accept the outcome of the arbitration. In such situations, the winning party may need to resort to further legal proceedings to compel compliance, adding to the complexity and duration of the enforcement process.

Political or economic instability in the enforcing country: Political or economic instability in the enforcing country can also hinder the enforcement of arbitral awards. In countries where there is political turmoil, corruption, or economic uncertainty, the legal system may be compromised, making it difficult to obtain effective enforcement of awards. The lack of a reliable and impartial judicial system can undermine the credibility of the enforcement process and create additional obstacles for parties seeking to enforce their rights. In such cases, parties may need to explore alternative mechanisms for securing compliance with the award, such as seeking assistance from international organisations or diplomatic channels.

Strategies for Enforcement

Seeking assistance from local courts to enforce the award: Seeking assistance from local courts to enforce the award involves filing a petition or application with the relevant court that has jurisdiction over the party against whom the award is to be enforced. The court will then review the award and determine whether it meets the legal requirements for enforcement. If the court finds in favour of enforcement, it may issue a judgment or order compelling the party to comply with the award.

Utilising international conventions such as the New York Convention for recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards: Utilising international conventions such as the New York Convention for recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards provides a framework for enforcing arbitral awards across different countries. Parties can rely on the provisions of the convention to seek recognition and enforcement of awards in member states. This can streamline the enforcement process and provide a more efficient mechanism for ensuring compliance with arbitral awards.

Engaging in diplomatic efforts to ensure compliance with the award: Engaging in diplomatic efforts to ensure compliance with the award involves reaching out to relevant government authorities or diplomatic channels to seek their support in enforcing the award. This may include requesting assistance from the government of the country where the award debtor is located or seeking diplomatic intervention to resolve any disputes or obstacles to enforcement. Diplomatic efforts can help facilitate communication and cooperation between parties involved in the enforcement process.


In conclusion, the enforcement of international arbitral awards presents various challenges due to legal, political, and practical reasons. However, by employing strategic approaches such as seeking assistance from local courts, leveraging international conventions like the New York Convention, and engaging in diplomatic efforts, parties involved in cross-border disputes can enhance the effectiveness of enforcing arbitral awards. It is crucial for stakeholders to navigate these challenges with diligence and cooperation to ensure the integrity and reliability of the international arbitration process.

*Disclaimer: This website copy is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, book an initial consultation with our commercial solicitors HERE.

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