AA 1996—challenging an arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction pre-award (ss 31 and 32)
Produced in partnership with Latham & Watkins

The following Arbitration practice note produced in partnership with Latham & Watkins provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • AA 1996—challenging an arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction pre-award (ss 31 and 32)
  • The principle of kompetenz-kompetenz
  • Objecting to the substantive jurisdiction of the tribunal
  • Objecting to the tribunal’s jurisdiction before the tribunal (AA 1996, s 31)
  • Determination of a preliminary point of jurisdiction—application to the English court (AA 1996, s 32)
  • Challenging the validity of an arbitration agreement other than by a challenge to jurisdiction under AA 1996, ss 31 or 32

AA 1996—challenging an arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction pre-award (ss 31 and 32)

This Practice Note considers the bases on which an arbitral tribunal’s substantive jurisdiction can be challenged before an award is made, pursuant to the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996), in force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This Practice Note should be read in conjunction with Practice Note: AA 1996—challenging an arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction in court (pre-award)—procedure (s 32).

For guidance on post-award challenges and appeals under AA 1996, see Practice Note: AA 1996—challenging and appealing arbitral awards in the English court.

The principle of kompetenz-kompetenz

AA 1996, s 30(1) enshrines the principle of kompetenz-kompetenz (or competence-competence) in English arbitration law. This principle (which is also contained in Article 16 of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the Model Law)) provides that the tribunal should be able to rule on whether it has jurisdiction to determine the dispute referred to it.

AA 1996, s 30(1) provides that:

'Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may rule on its own substantive jurisdiction, that is, as to:

(a) whether there is a valid arbitration agreement,

(b) whether the tribunal is properly constituted, and

(c) what matters have been submitted to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration agreement.’

‘Substantive jurisdiction’ means ‘the matters specified in AA 1996, s 30(1)(a)–(c), and references to the tribunal

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