The 25-year-old Arbitration Act may need reform in the face of competition from overseas jurisdictions, the Law Commission said today, announcing a review of the principal legislation governing arbitrations in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The review 'aims to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront' of the international dispute resolution market in the face of competition from centres such as Dubai and Singapore.
Professor Sarah Green, commercial and common law commissioner, said: 'The quality of the Arbitration Act 1996 has helped London become a leading seat for international arbitrations, however, there are some aspects of the act which could be improved in light of modern arbitration practices.
'The Law Commission’s work will enhance the experience for those who choose to arbitrate in England and Wales and maintain English law as the gold standard in international arbitrations.'
A consultation paper is expected to be published late next year. Possible areas of work include:
- The power to summarily dismiss unmeritorious claims or defences in arbitration proceedings
- The courts’ powers exercisable in support of arbitration proceedings
- Procedure for challenging a jurisdiction award
- The availability of appeals on points of law
- The law concerning confidentiality and privacy in arbitration proceedings
- Electronic service of documents, electronic arbitration awards, and virtual hearings.
Catherine Dixon, director general of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, said: 'Whilst there are different views on whether amendments are required, 25 years on from its enactment, it is right that the legislation is reviewed to ensure the framework it provides remains effective, agile and responsive to the changing landscape of dispute resolution worldwide.'