Northern Ireland arbitration law to be reviewed

Northern Ireland arbitration law to be reviewed

The principal legislation governing arbitrations in Northern Ireland as well as England and Wales is set to be reviewed by the Law Commission.

The review of the Arbitration Act 1996, which will be launched in the first quarter of 2022 with a consultation paper to follower later that year, aims to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of international dispute resolution.

The Law Commission said the “overarching aim will be to maintain the attractiveness of England and Wales as a ‘destination’ for dispute resolution and the pre-eminence of English law as a choice of law”.

The scope of the review is yet to be determined but could include issues relating to:

  • the power to summarily dismiss unmeritorious claims or defences in arbitration proceedings
  • the courts’ powers exercisable in support of arbitration proceedings
  • the 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.

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.”

Catherine Dixon, director-general of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, added: “The 1996 Arbitration Act has played a pivotal role in making England, Wales and Northern Ireland a leading global centre for commercial arbitration.

“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.”

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