BREXIT, EU & International Arbitration

1. The Legal Instruments Utilized on International Arbitration in the UK:

A very important point that needs to be made as an introductory note is that the legal instruments governing international arbitration at the London seat are:

a. the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards 1958, and

b. the English Arbitration Act 1996, the law that provides the framework for international and domestic arbitration in the UK

Both are not connected to EU law and the Act of 1996 does not incorporate EU law in any sense whatsoever.

Also, English Law has traditionally been the law of choice for contracts and International Agreements particularly Contract Law which has remained virtually untouched by EU legislation and developed/evolved through the passage of centuries.

In the light of the above, it seems unlikely that London will be affected as an International dispute resolution centre of choice.

2. Strengths of London Arbitration Seat:

London is one of the most reputable, popular and trusted arbitral seats in the world. The reasons for this reputation have never depended on membership of the EU.

The reasons for this have been the following:

a. The UK arbitration legislation is modern, comprehensive, concise and clear, as it provides a framework for resolving a dispute by arbitration, it does respect the parties’ choice of arbitration, limits judicial intervention and is in line with international treaties.

b. The UK possesses a high level of experienced, independent and efficient judiciary

c. The UK provides the ability to parties to be represented in arbitration by lawyers from anywhere in the world
London has all of these important qualities. None requires membership of the EU or is dependent on it. Also, other leading centres for international arbitration, including Hong Kong and Singapore and those in Switzerland have thrived wholly outside of the EU.

3. The Example of Switzerland:

International Dispute Resolution in Asia and Switzerland have been thriving despite the fact that neither Hong Kong, Singapore or Switzerland have acceded to the EU.

Switzerland is a neutral country and hosts many international organizations, fora or dispute settlement institutions/centres, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), the International Air Transport Association, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS/TAS), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and major international sports organizations such as FIFA and UEFA.

Many international contracts referring to arbitration in Switzerland are governed by Swiss law, as a neutral law, easily accessible for lawyers. Contract negotiators and drafters from all over the world are attracted by the clear and concise legal framework Swiss law provides.

UK and London provide equally the same quality in resolving international disputes with the London Court of International Arbitration.

In essence. the UK can keep its leading position as an International Arbitration Centre at the dawn of Brexit and for years to come.