The seat of the arbitration
Produced in partnership with Peter McQueen
The seat of the arbitration

The following Arbitration guidance note Produced in partnership with Peter McQueen provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The seat of the arbitration
  • The importance of the arbitral seat
  • Determining the seat of arbitration
  • The seat must be a country
  • What happens if the arbitral seat is agreed but the procedural law is not agreed?
  • What happens if the seat is not agreed but the procedural law is agreed?
  • What happens if the seat is not agreed but the venue is agreed?
  • What happens if the seat and venue are not agreed?
  • Is the seat reasonable?

This Practice Note considers the key concept of the seat of an arbitration, with a particular focus on the law of England and Wales and Northern Ireland (England and English are used as shorthand throughout). Practice Note: Choosing the seat of arbitration may also be of interest.

The importance of the arbitral seat

The arbitration seat is the juridical (or legal) place of the arbitration (sometimes referred to as the locus arbitri). The law of the seat (the lex arbitri) governs many aspects of the arbitral procedure and the award—it ‘indicates a link between the arbitration and a system of law’ (Process & Industrial Developments v Nigeria). The concept of the seat of the arbitration is one of the most important in international arbitration proceedings because it informs (and often determines):

  1. the applicable procedural law of the arbitration (also referred to as the curial law or lex fori)

  2. the national court (or curial court) that may assist or supervise the parties and the tribunal during the arbitration

  3. the national court that has exclusive jurisdiction to determine any challenge or appeal in respect of the arbitral award

  4. the nationality of the award (or country of origin) for the purposes of recognition and enforcement

The arbitration seat does not necessarily determine the location(s) (or venue(s)) where tribunal meetings are held, hearings take place