State immunity in proceedings relating to arbitration (England & Wales)
Produced in partnership with Sudhanshu Swaroop QC of 20 Essex Street
State immunity in proceedings relating to arbitration (England & Wales)

The following Arbitration guidance note Produced in partnership with Sudhanshu Swaroop QC of 20 Essex Street provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • State immunity in proceedings relating to arbitration (England & Wales)
  • An overview of the legislative framework—SIA 1978
  • The general rule on state immunity (SIA 1978, s 1)
  • Submission to jurisdiction—an exception to the general rule on state immunity (SIA 1978, s 2)
  • Commercial transactions and contracts to be performed in the UK—an exception to the general rule on state immunity (SIA 1978, s 3)
  • Arbitration—an exception to the general rule on state immunity (SIA 1978, s 9)
  • Other exceptions to the general rule on state immunity
  • Special rules for injunctions against a state and for execution against ‘property of a state’
  • Special rules for ‘separate entities’
  • The arbitration exception to state immunity (SIA 1978, s 9)
  • more

This Practice Note addresses state immunity from civil proceedings in the courts of the UK, in particular proceedings relating to arbitration. The general rule (subject to exceptions) is that states are immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the UK. Accordingly, questions of state immunity may arise, for example, where a party brings an application in court against a state to:

  1. challenge or appeal an arbitral award

  2. enforce an award, or

  3. seek an injunction in support of an arbitration

The area of law is governed primarily by the State Immunity Act 1978 (SIA 1978). This Practice Note provides an overview of SIA 1978 and explains how it has been applied to court proceedings relating to arbitration. While the SIA 1978 applies to the UK (including Northern Ireland), the case law referred to in this Practice Note derives from the courts of England and Wales. The Practice Note uses ‘England’ and ‘English’ as a convenient shorthand.

This Practice Note, in line with the taxonomy of SIA 1978, uses the term ‘state immunity’. However, practitioners should be aware that the term ‘sovereign immunity’ is sometimes used to refer to the same principle.

For an introduction to state immunity in international arbitration generally, including the distinction between jurisdictional immunity on the one hand and immunity from enforcement and execution on the other, as well as the