14 Dec 2022
Thank you to all those who joined us and the Law Commission for a public consultation on the Arbitration Act of 1996 on 29 November 2022. Professor Sarah Green of the Law Commission, Professor Julian Lew KC FCIArb, Professor Stavros Brekoulakis and Jonathan Wood FCIArb joined as panellists for the evening. Ciarb’s Mercy McBrayer FCIArb facilitated the panel.
Professor Sarah Green introduced the panel session by giving an overview of the UK government’s rationale for the review of the Act. She highlighted the main contentious issues identified through the Law Commission's consultation.
Professor Green specifically mentioned Section 44 and Section 67, referring to these as "everyone's favourite topics”. She pointed to Section 69 as one that also drew strong opinions.
Following on from Professor Green’s introduction, opinions on the consultation were given by the rest of the panel. Professor Julian Lew provided the historical context to the 1996 Act. He noted that a large part of the Act's success was due to the clarity and accessibility of the language. He concluded by questioning the need for significant modifications to the Act.
Professor Stavros Brekoulakis welcomed the timely discussion by the Law Commission, noting that the Act is a live component of a thriving arbitration sector. He spoke in greater detail about the contentious nature of the proposals around section 67, specifically the potential interactions with sections 32 and 103. He described the view expressed by those in support of the proposed amendments. Wendy Miles KC went on to explore the diverging viewpoints that practitioners have voiced, and the arguments practitioners have expressed against the proposals. Wendy Miles also discussed the topic of climate when addressing the Act and asked the question as to whether amendments to Section 68 would be important in that regard, noting that such amendments had yet to be proposed by the Law Commission.
Last, but not least, Jonathan Wood spoke about the need to consider the Act holistically. He noted that whilst the international support of the Act had been spoken about by the other speakers, it was still important to remember its domestic application. Jonathan highlighted opinions from domestic users of the Act and particularly on users in the insurance and maritime sectors.
The comment session that followed the panel discussion emphasised the variety of opinions over Section 67. The Law Commission expressed its gratitude for everyone's time, ideas, and participation. The session closed with a reminder to all to submit consultation replies by 15 December 2022.
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