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.