CIArb News

Law Commission Confirms Review of the 1996 Arbitration Act

30 Nov 2021

Following a consultation earlier this year, the Law Commission of England and Wales has today confirmed it will conduct a review of the Arbitration Act 1996, the principal legislation governing arbitration in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The review is intended to ensure the UK retains a competitive edge in international dispute resolution.

The scope of the review will be determined in the coming months. However, based on responses to its 14th Programme of Law Reform, the Law Commission identified a number of aspects that could be included. These include, but are not limited 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.

CIArb made a substantial contribution to the consultation in the Summer and welcomes the fact the legislation is being reviewed. In the 25 years since it was enacted the Arbitration Act has provided a strong framework within which arbitration in the UK has flourished. It remains a robust and well-regarded piece of legislation – however, in the context of a rapidly changing world and emerging developments affecting the profession, CIArb believes it is prudent to take stock of the Act’s contents and identify areas where updates may be beneficial.

As a global professional body for all forms of dispute resolution, CIArb works with governments across the world to create an environment that is conducive to vibrant and thriving alternatives to litigation. We will be working very closely with the Law Commission as it undertakes this review, and we encourage our members to make their views known.

The Law Commission expects to launch the Review in the first quarter of 2022 and will publish a full consultation later in the year.

Catherine Dixon, CIArb Director-General:

“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.

CIArb made a significant contribution to the Law Commission’s 14th Programme consultation in July, and we are pleased that the review of the Act has now been confirmed. As the leading professional body for dispute resolution practitioners, we look forward to working closely with the Law Commission to ensure the review has a positive impact, and we encourage our members to fully engage with the review process.”

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