John Habergham, Myton Law, Hull U.K.

The UK Arbitration Act is 25 years old

The UK Law Commission (the statutory independent body created to keep the law under review and, where necessary recommend reform) is to review it.

It seems to me the driver is the rise of alternative arbitration dispute resolutions centres around the globe, with an accompanying perception that they have already brought in reforms and a desire to ensure the UK remains an attractive destination for international commercial arbitrations.

With admirable candour the Commission state their aim to review the Act: “to ensure it is as clear, modern and efficient as possible.”

The Commission is to start work this year with an initial task of consultation with relevant bodies to identify specific matters to be addressed.

However, they have already identified certain areas which should be looked at:

  • 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.

The Commission has made it clear that this list is not closed and is open to representations.

It will launch the review during the first quarter of 2022 and aims to publish a consultation paper in late 2022.

Watch this space.