23 December 2021

The Law Commission has recently announced a review of the Arbitration Act 1996, on the 25th anniversary of the legislation coming into force. The Act has helped London to become a pre-eminent destination for commercial arbitrations. However, it has been identified by the Law Commission as a piece of legislation which should be reviewed to ensure that it 'remains up to date in all respects'. 

The aim of the review is to ensure that England and Wales remains an attractive 'destination' for dispute resolution and a preferred choice of law. Following on from the consultation conducted by the Law Commission as part of the 14th Programme on Law Reform, a number of points were identified as possible areas for reform of the Act. These included:

  • powers to summarily dismiss unmeritorious claims or defences in arbitral proceedings;
  • the courts’ powers exercisable in support of arbitration proceedings; and 
  • the law concerning confidentiality and privacy in arbitration proceedings.

Of these possible areas for reform, the issue of confidentiality and privacy is particularly interesting. Confidentiality is a hallmark of the arbitral process and a key area in which arbitration is distinguishable from litigation. However, the Act is notably silent on the question of confidentiality. Reform of the Act may bring national legislation into line with that of other popular jurisdictions for arbitration (such as Singapore and Hong Kong) that have sought to provide statutory guidance to parties on their confidentiality obligations. It remains to be seen if and how the Law Commission will choose to address this issue. 

The Law Commission will launch their review during the course of Q1 2022 and aim to produce a consultation paper in late 2022.

This article was written by Christopher Wenn.


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David Hall

David Hall Partner

  • Dispute Resolution
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