Arbitration agreements — a simple little question

A nice little point from the Privy Council today. A shareholders’ agreement says, “any party may submit the dispute to binding arbitration”. Does this mean (I) neither party is allowed to sue in the courts at all; (II) either party can sue to his heart’s content, but the defendant can stop the action in its tracks, provided he himself brings arbitration proceedings; or (III) either party can sue, but the defendant can demand that the plaintiff arbitrate or shut up? The answer is (III). Moral: draft your arbitration agreements with clarity. Lawyers can pick a hole in (almost) anything.

See Anzen v Hermes One [2016] UKPC 1, available as ever on BAILII.


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Professor Andrew Tettenborn

Professor Andrew Tettenborn joined Swansea Law School and the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law in 2010 having previously taught at the universities of Exeter (Bracton Professor of Law 1996-2010), Nottingham and Cambridge. Professor Tettenborn is a well-known scholar both in common law and continental jurisdictions. He has held visiting positions at Melbourne University, the University of Connecticut and at Case Law School, Cheveland, Ohio. He is author and co-author of books on torts, damages and maritime law, and of numerous articles and chapters on aspects of common law, commercial law and restitution.

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