“The English Arbitration Act 1996 – 15 years on”

Prior to the opening of the 21st ICCA Conference in Singapore earlier this year, the Right Honourable Lord Saville of Newdigate PC QC spoke at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ (“CIArb“) reception. His speech was entitled “The English Arbitration Act 1996 – 15 years on”.

Lord Saville was almost single handedly responsible for drafting the 1996 Act, and prior to his retirement in 2010, he sat as a Judge of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

In his speech, Lord Saville spoke about the very limited right of appeal available for a party contained in section 69 of the Arbitration Act. He described how this limited right of appeal is a compromise between ensuring access to justice where an Arbitral Tribunal has made a decision which is “obviously wrong” and safeguarding the fact that decisions of an Arbitral Tribunal should be final and binding as the parties have chosen arbitration because they do not want to go to Court. On this subject, Lord Saville said:

My own personal preference, for what it is worth, was to get rid of appeals on questions of law altogether, unless the parties expressly agreed to take that course, but the compromise reached seems to have worked reasonably well.”

Lord Saville also gave his opinion on the debate as to whether arbitrators should have the power to grant interim measures of protection ex parte. He believes they should not. Giving arbitrators such powers, he said, “would contradict some of the basic principles of arbitration“.

A full transcript of Lord Saville’s speech can be read here.

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