Lawyers have welcomed the Law Commission’s plans to amend the Arbitration Act 1996 with a view to strengthening the UK’s position as a “leading destination” for commercial disputes.
The Law Commission’s plans aim to boost the cost savings, efficiency, and confidentiality benefits arbitration has over litigation, by strengthening the powers of arbitration tribunals and streamlining the dispute resolution process.
The review, which comes 25 years’ after the introduction of the act, comes amid concerns the UK is losing its position as the world’s main disputes hub, as rivals, including Singapore, increasingly solidify their position.
The plans seek to boost the efficiency of the arbitration process by strengthening the powers arbitration tribunals have to throw out meritless claims and giving them new powers.
The Law Commission also set out plans to force arbitrators to disclose any conflicts of interest in a bid to boost trust in the process.
However, the independent commission held back from boosting the confidentiality of the arbitration process in recognition of the principles of transparency and open justice.
David Vaughan, a partner at London law firm Collyer Bristow, said the reforms could help London regain its “historical” position as “the most popular place for international arbitrations.”
Gibson Dunn partner Penny Madden KC welcomed the recommendations, as she called on the commission to ensure the UK’s arbitration law “is as efficient, effective and reliable as possible.”
Commercial disputes lawyer Ben Giaretta said that while the 1996 Act is an “excellent statute” reforms will ensure “London retains its leading position internationally.”