UK Law Commission publishes final report on Arbitration Act review

Following two consultations, the UK Law Commission has published its final report on the review of the Arbitration Act 1996. 

Ciarb welcomes the proposed changes, the majority of which are in line with our recommendations, which were informed by input from our membership. 

The UK Law Commission says it listened to consultees’ feedback ‘that the Act works well, and that root and branch reform is not needed or wanted.’ In summary, it recommends the following major initiatives: 

  1. Codification of the statutory duty of disclosure 
  1. Strengthening of arbitrator immunity around resignation and applications for removal 
  1. Introduction of a power to make an arbitral award on a summary basis 
  1. An improved framework for challenges to awards under section 67 on the basis that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction 
  1. A new rule on the governing law of an arbitration agreement 
  1. Clarification of court powers in support of arbitral proceedings, and in support of emergency arbitrators. 

It also recommends ‘minor corrections’ as follows: 

  • Making appeals available from an application to stay legal proceedings. 
  • Simplifying preliminary applications to court on jurisdiction and points of law. 
  • Clarifying time limits for challenging awards. 
  • Repealing unused provisions on domestic arbitration agreements. 

Catherine Dixon, CEO of Ciarb, says, “It is a sign of the Arbitration Act 1996’s strength and value that only specific changes to ensure that Act remains current, have been recommended as opposed to an overhaul. As well as underpinning the attractiveness and competitiveness of London as an arbitration seat, the Act forms the basis of legislation in many other jurisdictions, lending global significance to this development. Ciarb worked closely with the UK Law Commission to inform the review. We support regular review of such legislation to ensure arbitration remains effective, fit for purpose, and a viable means of justice in a modern world.” 

The report is accompanied by a draft Bill containing proposed amendments to effect the recommendations. The report and draft Bill will be presented to Government to decide which recommendations to implement and whether the Bill should be introduced into Parliament. 

Read Ciarb’s responses to the first consultation and