Extract of a Seminar on International Commercial Arbitration Delivered by Hefin Rees on 13th May 2010.
- In a globalised economy, the commercial world looks increasingly towards arbitration as the best method for international dispute resolution. Arbitration offers a neutral and flexible forum, tailored to the parties’ wishes and the nature of the dispute.
- International commercial arbitration has a long history. The business community places trust in the arbitral process as it gives them the confidence to expand even into countries where the national court system may be seen as corrupt or to fail to meet basic standards of natural justice.
- The LCIA has had the confidence to set up a satellite office in India. It is too early to say how successful LCIA India will prove to be; as it will only be after several years will we know how many businesses choose India as the seat of arbitration in their arbitration agreements that are currently being negotiated and drafted. Currently, India has got a chequered history in terms of international commercial arbitration, with past difficulties over enforcing international arbitration awards, but it may be that there has been a culture change and there are grounds for optimism in arbitration in India.
- The big success story, which has proved to be the cornerstone of international commercial arbitration, has been the NYC. It is now over 50 years old, and has stood the test of time. The number of countries who have signed up to it is truly impressive, and way above any recognition treaties in the field of commercial litigation.
- There will always be some tension between the national court systems of different countries and international commercial arbitration; that is only natural. But, it is hoped that with the greater harmonisation of arbitration Rules and laws, this tension can be reduced. The case of West Tankers, however, is an unfortunate set back on this road; but, thankfully, the decision is of limited scope. It is to be anticipated that the “relay race”, to which Lord Mustill once compared the relationship of arbitration and the support mechanisms of the national court system, will continue.
- In short, international commercial arbitration has got a bright future.