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QLLM043 International and Comparative Commercial Arbitration

Module Description

The growth of international commerce, infra-structure projects, investment and intellectual property transactions has been accompanied, over the last four decades by the widened use of arbitration to settle disputes, so greatly expanding its scope from the more traditional sectors such as shipping, commodities and insurance. Arbitration is now well established as the preferred method of international dispute resolution as it provides the neutrality and flexibility commercial parties seek. In the last ten years more than 5,000 arbitration cases were recorded annually in London alone. This module examines the jurisprudential basis and practices of international commercial arbitration, covering both historical evolution and current developments. Over the years, the module has attracted a wide range of students from civil, common and Islamic law backgrounds from more than 90 jurisdictions across the world. This spread of experience and background has contributed to a lively interchange of contributions from the class to enhance the international and comparative approach to the topic; at the same time the growing globalisation and harmonisation receives due emphasis. A consistent comparative law is taken studying the subject in all major legal systems.

The subject has only been established as an autonomous subject in 1985 with the establishment of the School of International Arbitration, Queen Mary, University of London. Prior to 1985, and still in several places of the world, the module is studied or understood as a branch of civil procedure or international business law, or conflict of laws. This syllabus assumes that the module is autonomous and well developed.

Module Topics

  • The basic concepts and juridical bases of arbitration.
  • Forms of arbitration, ad hoc and institutional arbitration, specialised types of arbitration.
  • The arbitration agreement - form, content and efficacy; separability.
  • Appointment of, challenge to, and removal/resignation of arbitrators.
  • Independence and impartiality of arbitrators.
  • Immunity of arbitrators and arbitration institutions.
  • The jurisdiction of arbitrators, the doctrines of arbitrability and Kompetenz-Kompetenz
  • Arbitration and the role of national courts: supervision and assistance.
  • Conservatory and other interim measures.
  • The role of the seat of arbitration and delocalised arbitration.
  • The law governing the arbitration agreement and arbitration procedure.
  • Arbitration hearings; procedure, hearings, evidence and submissions and experts.
  • Multiparty and Multi-contract Arbitration.
  • The law applicable to the substance of the dispute; lex mercatoria and general principles; Amiables compositeurs, ex aequo et bono and equity clauses.
  • Arbitral award: form, content, types and delivery.
  • Challenges to award; appeals and setting aside.
  • Recognition and enforcement of awards: the primacy of the New York Convention.
  • ICSID arbitrations under the Washington Convention; Arbitration of Investment disputes

Students should know: In addition to lectures six sets of tutorials will be arranged, for students to apply their theoretical knowledge to case studies. Tutorials are structured for students to actively engage in discussions with their tutor and their colleagues.



Applicable programmes

Mode of Assessment

3 hour written examination paper


45 Credits

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