Our multi-disciplinary practice is made up of specialist lawyers that have market-leading experience in handling multi-million pound litigation cases and bringing complex claims to settlement through alternative forms of dispute resolution (“ADR”), where necessary.
Our specialist commercial arbitration lawyers have market-leading experience of handling multi-million pound arbitration and bringing complex claims to settlement. We understand the potential benefits of arbitration and how it can be a valuable alternative to litigation, particularly where confidentiality and privacy are of paramount concern. Our clients are confident that their case receives high-level personal care and supervision and all of our commercial arbitration cases are conducted by small, partner-led teams.
If you have a dispute that is subject to an arbitration clause, our team of alternative dispute solicitors and barristers have extensive experience in overseeing all manner of arbitration. We provide authoritative advise on single issue disputes to high value, complex cross-border disputes for individuals, SMEs and companies.
Our firm is unique in that we are based in a leading set of barristers chambers with access to top level QCs and we are based opposite the International Arbitration Centre.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where an impartial arbitrator makes a final and binding decision to settle a dispute between the parties. Arbitration is utilised as an alternative to litigation as means of resolving disputes without involving the courts.
Arbitration is fundamentally based on all parties agreeing to submit the dispute in question to arbitration, for example, by way of an arbitration agreement or a clause in a contract relating to the resolution of disputes.
Advantages of arbitration
- In disputes where the subject matter is highly technical, arbitrators with an appropriate degree of expertise can be appointed (as opposed to litigation).
- The arbitration process on the whole is faster than court proceedings.
- Arbitration may be cheaper and offer more flexible for companies.
- Arbitral awards are generally non-public and can be made confidential.
- Arbitration awards are generally easier to enforce in other nations than court judgments.
- If you are successful in arbitration, there are limited avenues for the other party to appeal an arbitral award.
How does arbitration differ from litigation?
- Contractual foundation: arbitration is based on contract with the rights and duties of the parties to arbitrate arise from the contract itself.
- Location: the parties can choose the location of arbitration proceedings.
- Appointment of the arbitrator/panel: the parties are able to choose the arbitral tribunal.
- Primacy of confidentiality: arbitration is ordinarily confidental
- Finality of the decision: a decision by an arbitral tribunal is usually final and cannot be appealed (however a court may set aside an award in exceptional circumstances)
- Enforceability: tribunal decisions are widely enforceable given the primacy of a number of conventions such as the New York Convention
What is an arbitration agreement?
This is either a free standing agreement or a clause in a contract whereby the parties agree to refer any disputes between them for a binding decision by an arbitrator or arbitral panel chosen by the parties. An arbitration agreement does not necessarily preclude court proceedings (which will depend on the arbitration law of the seat of arbitration).
The arbitration agreement will determine important elements of the process, including the number of people on the tribunal, how the arbitrators are selected, where the arbitration takes place and whether the arbitration is conducted in accordance with the rules of a particular arbitration institution or whether it will be ad hoc.
How to start arbitration proceedings
Given that arbitration is primarily based in the contract as a way to resolve disputes, the steps will be laid out in the contract. A claimant in arbitration proceedings will normally be required to send a request for arbitration or a notice to arbitrate to the other party. If arbitration is to be conducted in accordance with the rules of a specific arbitration institution then those rules will prescribe what is to be in the notice to arbitrate.
Who sits on an arbitration panel?
The composition of the tribunal is dictated by the arbitration agreement, which will govern the selection process of the arbitrators. There will usually be an express term such as: ‘each party will appoint an arbitrator and those appointed will appoint a third’.
It is essential that there is not an even number of arbitrators in order to prevent a deadlock. Therefore, a Chairman will be appointed. The decision of this Chairman will prevail, in the instance that there is neither unanimity nor a majority.
Additionally, if parties fail to successfully appoint arbitrators, these powers can be exercised by a third party e.g. the president of the Law Society. However, if there is no provision for this in the agreement then the parties may apply to the court to resolve the matter.
What powers and duties do arbitrators have?
There is an overriding duty for arbitrators to act fairly and impartially between the parties; and to adopt suitable procedures in order to avoid unnecessary delay and expense.
The powers of the arbitrators derives from the arbitration agreement as well as the AA. The tribunal, which is lead by the arbitrators, has the power make an award which is equivalent to a judgment in litigation. The award is final and binding and can be either final or partial. A final award deals with all of the issues in dispute. A partial award deals with a separate issues in dispute.
Can I challenge an award granted by a tribunal?
There are very strict rules regarding challenging an award. Usually, an application must be made with 28 days of the award. There are a plethora of grounds to challenge an award under the Arbitration Act 1996 such as:
- There is a partial award and some of the issues are still in dispute. In this instance the correct course is to apply to the tribunal, as per s.57(2) AA
- There is a clerical mistake or error, or the award is ambiguous. Again, you can apply to the tribunal to correct or clarify their award.
- The tribunal lacked substantive jurisdiction. In this instance an application to the court must be made within the 28 day window.
- There was a serious irregularity affecting the tribunal or the proceedings. In this case the applicant must show that a serious irregularity caused substantial injustice.
- The award contains a mistake in the law. The correct remedy in this instance is to appeal under s.69 of the AA.
City Of London Expert Commercial Arbitration Lawyers
Our London Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Solicitors and Barristers provide bespoke ADR and litigation advice. We invite you to contact us so one of our legal team can assess your dispute. We can subsequently provide urgent help, advice or representation from our expert team of leading ADR lawyers. Call or email us to start the process of instructing us; our ADR team are waiting to help.
To contact us about your case please call us on: 02071830529