In recent years, arbitration has become big business, rising to rival litigation as one of the most popular forms of dispute resolution in the modern business environment. Arbitral courts including traditional seats in London, Paris and New York are being joined by new and increasingly popular locations in emerging markets, particularly in South East Asia.

Global affair

The globalisation of the economy has had a knock on effect on arbitration. Today, many arbitration cases are international affairs and can be brought in any number of arbitration settings. The oldest and most prestigious of all these arbitral seats lies in London at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). In 2012 alone, the LCIA heard claims from over 30 countries. Around 265 cases were referred to the LCIA with the sums in dispute worth billions of dollars. More than 10 percent of all claims dealt with by the LCIA in 2012 were for sums in excess of $20m. Yet despite the high regard in which the LCIA is held, for the first time since 1998 arbitration in the UK is in a state of flux. In early 2014, the Drafting Sub-Committee of the LCIA released the final draft of its new arbitration rules. The guidelines, should they be approved by the LCIA Court, are expected to come into force in the latter part of this year.

The new rules, once they have been finalised, will apply to all arbitrations commenced after the date of promulgation, unless the parties agree otherwise. The decision of the LCIA to reform its regulations is part of a wider trend within the arbitration world. In 2010 a new set of UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules were released, followed by the ICC Arbitration Rules in early 2014. Although they are transformative in the UK, the new LCIA rules are very much in line with the recent amendments made globally.

Jul-Sep 2014 issue

Richard Summerfield