CD: What key trends and developments have you seen in UK arbitration over the last 12 months or so?

Bodle: An interesting recent indicator of the continued popularity of arbitration is the focus that has been placed on anti-suit injunctions to prevent parallel court proceedings in another jurisdiction. The ability of the English courts to prevent those proceedings continuing was dealt a blow by the ECJ’s decision in West Tankers. However, the new recast Brussels Regulation, together with the Advocate-General’s opinion in Gazprom, could potentially change this. Should the ECJ follow the approach taken in Gazprom in the next few months, we could see the end of parties tactically starting claims in their local courts to attempt to oust the arbitration clause they agreed upon. This will give the courts back the power to protect the arbitral process in the UK.

CD: To what extent do you believe the UK is now a less attractive arbitral location than it was in previous years? How ‘competitive’ is it compared to other arbitration centres around the world?

Bodle: London remains at the top of most people’s list as a seat for arbitration and I expect to see it remain there for some time. The English courts over a number of years have done a good job in ironing out any significant issues with arbitrating in this country. However, as arbitration practitioners, we must welcome the fact that other centres across the world are becoming more sophisticated and reliable, giving parties a wider choice of seat and making it easier to arbitrate in many different jurisdictions. The growth of arbitration in Asia and the emergence of arbitration centres in Africa have been especially impressive and provide parties with realistic alternatives to the traditional locations, such as London, Paris and New York. Increased competition can only be a good thing as it means that the established centres must keep on top of their game. 

Apr-Jun 2015 issue