What disputes can be arbitrated? (England and Wales)
Produced in partnership with Simmons & Simmons LLP
What disputes can be arbitrated? (England and Wales)

The following Arbitration guidance note Produced in partnership with Simmons & Simmons LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What disputes can be arbitrated? (England and Wales)
  • Arbitration agreements
  • Scope of agreement
  • Validity of arbitration agreements
  • Disputes arising from criminal or illegal activity
  • International considerations in relation to criminality and illegality
  • Foreign acts of state
  • Consumer contracts
  • Pre-arbitration considerations

Note: This Practice Note should be read in conjunction with Practice Note: Arbitrability in international arbitration.

Arbitration is a contractual dispute resolution mechanism—it takes place when parties to a dispute agree to resolve it by arbitration rather than through a court process or other means.

While there is no statutory definition of arbitration, the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996) states that it is founded on principles that:

  1. arbitration is a process whereby parties obtain a fair resolution of disputes by an impartial tribunal avoiding unnecessary expense and delay

  2. parties are free to agree the process for arbitrating their dispute subject to public interest requirements

  3. arbitration is a private dispute resolution mechanism and courts should not intervene unless provided for in AA 1996

As such, as a general rule, it is possible to submit any civil dispute to arbitration, provided that the parties agree to do so. National laws, however, generally impose certain restrictions on what disputes can be submitted to arbitration. These may restrict either the ability of a dispute to be arbitrated at all or the ability to enforce any arbitral award obtained within a particular jurisdiction.

It is important that in considering whether a dispute is suitable for arbitration practitioners take into account not only issues related to arbitral proceedings, but also the enforceability of any award which may be obtained.