This matter concerned the determination of certain accounting disputes which were referred to an expert by agreement between the parties. The respondent (Shoprite) had applied to the High Court for an order declaring that the expert had failed properly to determine some of the disputes referred to him and directing him to determine the disputes in question.
The High Court granted the order sought, whereupon the appellant (SAB) lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeal. The SCA upheld the appeal. The Court found, on the facts, that the expert had made a valid determination. The legal principle relied upon may be summarised as follows:
In general, the requirements for a valid arbitral award are equally applicable to an expert determination. What is required is that all the issues submitted must be resolved in a manner that achieves finality and certainty. The award or determination may therefore not reserve a decision on any issue before the arbitrator or expert for someone else to resolve. The award must also be capable of implementation. On the other hand, what must be determined are
the matters submitted and no more. Depending on the questions, therefore, the determination may not necessarily result in a final resolution of the dispute between the parties. Generally, a court will be slow to find non-compliance
with the substantive requirements. An award or determination will also be construed liberally and in accordance with the dictates of common sense.
SA Breweries Ltd v Shoprite Holdings Ltd 2008 (1) SA 203(SCA)