Arbitration agreements—definition, purpose and interpretation
Arbitration agreements—definition, purpose and interpretation

The following Arbitration practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Arbitration agreements—definition, purpose and interpretation
  • What is an arbitration agreement?
  • What is the purpose of an arbitration agreement?
  • Interpreting arbitration agreements—does the arbitration agreement cover all disputes between the parties?
  • What constitutes a dispute or difference?

This Practice Note considers the nature and scope of arbitration agreements with a particular focus on arbitration agreements pursuant to the law of England and Wales, although it also discusses the concept from an international perspective and includes some comparative examples from other jurisdictions. For an introduction to arbitration as a method of dispute resolution, see the following Practice Notes: Arbitration—an introduction to the key features of arbitration, International arbitration—an introduction to the key features of international arbitration, Ad hoc arbitration—an introduction to the key features of ad hoc arbitration and Institutional arbitration—an introduction to the key features of institutional arbitration.

To compare the answers to key questions relating to arbitration agreements in jurisdictions around the world, please see our International Comparator Tool.

What is an arbitration agreement?

The arbitration agreement is often referred to as the ‘foundation stone’ of arbitration as it is, generally speaking, a method of dispute resolution based on mutual party consent to arbitrate future or current disputes.

An arbitration agreement encompasses an agreement by two or more parties to submit to arbitration either:

  1. 'future' disputes that may arise where the agreement is set out in the substantive agreement between the parties, ie in an arbitration clause, or

  2. 'current' disputes where the agreement to arbitrate is set out in a stand-alone agreement entered into between the parties after the dispute has arisen, ie a

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