Ministry of Defence
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Modernised laws to secure UK as world leader in dispute resolution

The UK’s status as a multi-billion-pound global leader in arbitration services will be secured by new legislation introduced to Parliament on 21 November 2023.

  • New Bill to solidify London’s reputation as best location in the world to resolve legal disputes  
  • Simpler, faster, more efficient processes a boon to individuals and businesses 
  • Arbitration worth more than £2.5 billion to the British economy each year   

The Arbitration Bill will benefit businesses and individuals around the world who look to the UK as the best place to resolve disputes from family law and rent reviews to international commercial contracts and claims by foreign investors made against entire countries.  

Modernising the framework for arbitration in this country for the first time in 26 years – making it quicker, cheaper and more efficient –will cement the position of this high-value sector in the face of growing competition from other centres such as Singapore and Paris. 

With arbitrations in England and Wales worth £2.5 billion to the British economy each year in fees alone, the Bill will help the UK’s world-leading legal services sector to continue to flourish. 

In supporting people and businesses to settle disputes without having to go to court, British arbitrators will save them time and money. 

Justice Minister, Lord Bellamy, said:    

These much-needed changes will modernise the role of arbitrators and further cement our position as a world leader in the field. 

The UK is a globally-respected hub for legal services, with English and Welsh law the bedrock for the majority of international disputes, and the Arbitration Bill will ensure businesses from around the world continue to come here to resolve their disagreements.

Other countries have already modernised their laws and as a result, the government asked the Law Commission in 2021 to review the Arbitration Act to ensure the UK remains ahead of the curve when it comes to dispute resolution. They consulted extensively before making recommendations to the government which were backed the arbitration sector.  

Accepting the Law Commission’s recommendations in full means arbitrations in this country will remain fair and efficient and will cement the UK’s status and economic benefit as a world leader. 

Changes include: 

  • Strengthening the courts’ powers to support emergency arbitration so time-sensitive decisions can be made more easily, such as the preservation of evidence to avoid bad actors destroying key materials.  
  • Providing more clarity on the law of arbitration. 
  • Simplifying procedures to reduce delays and costs for clients. 
  • Protecting arbitrators from unreasonable lawsuits - for example if the arbitrator needs to resign from the case with good reason, to ensure they can make impartial decisions. 

Catherine Dixon, CEO of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, said:

We worked very closely with the UK Law Commission and other officials during its review of the Arbitration Act 1996. As the leading professional body for dispute resolvers, we are delighted that the majority of our recommendations were adopted in the Law Commission’s report and, subsequently, the Bill.  

We are pleased that the UK Government has included legislative reform of the Arbitration Act as a key priority in this Parliament, recognising the importance of arbitration to the UK and globally, as the Act forms the basis of legislation in many other jurisdictions.

Notes to editors 

This Bill will:   

  • Empower arbitrators to expedite decisions on issues that have no real prospect of success to make arbitration more efficient. 
  • Introduce a duty on arbitrators to tell clients any circumstances which could cast reasonable doubt on their impartiality in deciding an outcome of a dispute. 
  • Make clearer which law underpins arbitration agreements so arbitrations which happen in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are supported by the relevant UK law. 
  • Empower the court to make orders supporting the actions of emergency arbitrators to enhance their effectiveness, and make orders in support of arbitral proceedings against third parties (those not involved in the proceedings) to for example preserve evidence or take witness evidence.  
  • Extend arbitrator immunity against liability for resignations and the costs of the application to court for their removal, to support arbitrators to make impartial decisions.  
  • Simplify court procedures related to arbitration to increase clarity as well as reduce delays and costs for clients.
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