Law Commission to review the Arbitration Act 1996

Yesterday, on 22 September 2022, the Law Commission for England and Wales published a public consultation paper unfolding provisional law reform proposals to ensure that the Arbitration Act 1996 remains state of art. After the Ministry of Justice asked the Commission to undertake a review of the Arbitration Act 1996 in 2021, the work began in January 2022. While consulting with a wide range of stakeholders in the field and assessing the current legal framework, the Commission has concluded that the Arbitration Act works very well, without any need for substantial reforms. However, it has been revealed that several discrete topics might necessitate amendments to ensure that the Act fits its purpose and continues to promote the UK as a leading destination for commercial arbitration. The Commission has drafted the consultation questions around the shortlisted aspects of arbitration:

1. Confidentiality

2. Independence of arbitrators and disclosure.

3. Discrimination. 

4. Immunity of arbitrators. 

5. Summary disposal of issues that lack merit. 

6. Interim measures ordered by the court in support of arbitral proceedings (section 44 of the Act). 

7. Jurisdictional challenges against arbitral awards (section 67). 

8. Appeals on a point of law (section 69). 

In addition, the Commission encourages consultees to suggest and comment on any other topics which are not covered in the consultation paper but might need reviewing.

The Commission welcomes responses to the paper between 22 September 2022 and 15 December 2022 using an online form, email, or post. After the consultation has been completed, the Commission will analyse the responses and ensure further stakeholder engagement as appropriate. The follow-up report of the final recommendations for law reform will be published by the Commission, and the Ministry of Justice together with other interested departments will decide whether to implement them.

More information on the reform project and the consultation paper are available at Review of the Arbitration Act 1996 | Law Commission.

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