Suggested Reading:-

**Goode, ‘The Role of the Lex Loci Arbitri in International Commercial Arbitration,’ 17 Arbitration International 19 (2001), also published in Lex Mercatoria: Essays in Honour of Professor Francis Reynolds.

   Lew, The Applicable Law in International Commercial Arbitration, (1978), 51-61

** Paulsson, ‘Arbitration Unbound: Award Detached from the Law of its Country of Origin’, 30 ICLQ 358 (1981);

--‘Delocalisation of International Commercial Arbitration: When and Why It Matters’, 32 ICLQ 53 (1983) ;

---The extent of independence of international arbitration from the law of the situs’, in Lew (Ed.), Contemporary Problems in International Arbitration (1986), 141

** Park, ‘The Lex Loci Arbitri and International Commercial Arbitration’, 32 ICLQ 21 (1983);

---National Law and Commercial Justice: Safeguarding Procedural Integrity in International Arbitration.’ 63 Tulane LR 647 (1989)

    Rensmann, ‘Anational arbitral awards –legal phenomenon or academic phantom?’, (1998) 15/2 Journal of International Arbitration 37.

    Sinclair, ‘Some Procedural Aspects in International Litigation’, 30 ICLQ 338 (1981)

**Toope, Mixed International Arbitration (1990), chs II, III

van den Berg, The New York Arbitration Convention of 1958, (1981), 28-51

---, Planning Efficient Arbitration Proceedings: The Law Applicable in International Arbitration (1996).

     Yu and Molife, ‘The Impact of National Law elements on International Commercial Arbitration,’ [2001] Int’l Arbitration Law Review 17-23



The Lex Arbitri (or curial Law)


1.         It is necessary to distinguish: (a) the law governing the arbitration agreement, as a contract; (b) the source of rules prescribing the conduct of the arbitral tribunal (see following handout) ; (c) the lex arbitri, which is the law of the supervisory jurisdiction. See Thomas, ‘The Proper Law of Arbitration Agreements,’ [1984] LMCLQ 304, and ‘The Curial Law of Arbitration Proceedings.’ [1984] LMCLQ 491.  On the role of the lex arbitri see, e.g., Paul Smith Ltd v. H & S Holding Inc. [1992] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 127, 130; Whitworth Street Estates v. James Miller [1970] AC 583; Union of India v. McDonnell Douglas Corp. [1993] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 48;  UK Arbitration Act 1996, ss. 2, 3.


2.         The various theories concerning the nature of arbitration bear upon the identification of, and the explanation for the authority of, the lex arbitri.  The main theories are: (i) the jurisdictional theory [authority derives from the sovereignty of the State where the arbitration has its seat]; (ii) the contractual theory [authority derives from agreement between the parties]; (iii) the hybrid theory, which combines (i) + (ii) [the law of the seat allows the parties to agree…]; (iv) the autonomous theory [arbitration is a wholly autonomous institution, not in need of further explanation].





The orthodox position: lex arbitri = Law of the Seat of the Arbitration


3.         The orthodox theory is that the law of the seat is necessarily the lex arbitri.  See the Geneva Protocol 1923, art. 2; New York Convention, art. V, ; Sapphire International Petroleum Co. v. NIOC, (1963) 35 ILR 136, 168; BP v. Libya, (1973), 53 ILR 297, 308-311

BP v. Libya (Application to Reopen), 5 Y'bk Comm. Arb. 158 (1980); Channel Tunnel Group Ltd v.  Balfour Beatty Construction Ltd [1993] AC 344, 357-358



The ‘Delocalization’ debate:  lex arbitri freed from the accidents of geography


4.         Objection to the impact of technical rules of the local law on arbitrations which happen to be held there have led to attempts to detach the arbitration from the local law (= ‘delocalisation’ of the arbitration).  See Paulsson, Park, Mann (above); Götaverken Arendal AB v. Libyan General National Maritime Transport Co., (1978), Wetter, The International Arbitral Process, II, 178 (1979);  Götaverken (Paris) 30 ICLQ 358, 385 (1981); (1980) J. Droit Int. 763 [note role of ICC Rules, art. 11];  Götaverken (Sweden), 21 Va. J. Int. L. 244 (1981);  German-Rumanian Mixed Claims Tribunal, 16 June 1925 -David, Arbitration in International Trade, (1985), 305;  **Saudi Arabia v. Aramco, 27 ILR 117 (1958)

**Texaco v. Libya, 17 ILM 3 (1978); T. Rensmann, ‘Anational arbitral awards –legal phenomenon or academic phantom?’, (1998) 15/2 Journal of International Arbitration 37.


5.         The current trend is to revise national laws so as to minimise its impact on international commercial arbitrations held in the State.  This is another means of pursuing the goal of delocalisation.  See, e.g., the German Act on the Reform of the law Relating to Arbitral Proceedings, 1997, 37 ILM 790 (1998); the French Decree on Int'l Arbitration, 1981, VII Y'bk Comm. Arb. 271 (1982), 20 ILM 917 (1981); Delaume, ‘International Arbitration under French Law..’, 37 Arb. J. 38 (1982); the Belgian legislation, 1985, 25 ILM 725 (1986);  Paulsson, ‘Arbitration Unbound in Belgium’, (1986) Arb. Int. 68, the Swiss Statute on International Arbitration, 1987, 27 ILM 37 (1988); the UK Arbitration Acts 1979 and 1996; Collins, ‘The law governing the agreement and procedure in international arbitration in England’, in Lew (ed.), Contemporary Problems in International Arbitration (1986), 126. See generally:


6.         National courts show a marked reluctance to accept the concept of delocalisation. **Bank Mellat v. Helliniki Techniki SA [1983] 3 All ER 428, 431; ** Dallal v. Bank Mellat [1986] 1 All ER 239; Schindler, ‘Arbitration Still Bound’, 102 LQR 500 (1986)






1.         The tribunal’s procedure may be agreed by the parties, who may adopt by reference a set of arbitration rules [e.g., ICC, UNCITRAL], or -more rarely- the procedural law of another State: Union of India v. McDonnell Douglas Corp. [1993] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 48. In the absence of such agreement between the parties, law of the seat applies as the lex arbitri to determine procedural questions. In any event. the chosen procedure must comply with the lex arbitri.  See, e.g., UNCITRAL Rules, section III (articles 15-30); UNCITRAL Model Law, articles 18- 27; UK Arbitration Act 1996, ss. 33-41.  For a list of matters commonly addressed in arbitration rules see the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitration Proceedings,   Cf., A. J. van den Berg, International Council for Commercial Arbitration, Congress Series n. 7: Planning Efficient Arbitration Proceedings (The Hague, 1996). See generally:  ** Mani, International Adjudication: Procedural Aspects (1980); Hascher, Recueil des cours / Hague Receuil, 1999.




2          In principle, parties have the right to be represented:  see the Hague Conventions, 1899 (art. 37), 1907 (art. 62); ICJ Statute art. 42.  Even in tribunals where representation has not traditionally been allowed, the move is in this direction: see the WTO decision in the Bananas complaint (1997),


3.         Agents and counsel have distinct roles: Behring Sea Fur Seal Arbitration (Moore, Int. Arb. vol. 1, p. 910).  Their acts before the tribunal may bind the parties: France-US Air Transport arbitration (1963), 69 RGDIP 192 (1965); German Interests in Polish Upper Silesia (Merits), PCIJ Ser. A, No. 7, p. 13; Free Zones, PCIJ Ser. A/B, No. 46, pp. 169-170.





4.         There are certain minimum procedural norms which natural justice / fairness demands be observed: see Carlston, The Process of International Arbitration (1946);  A.L. Merriott, ‘Evidence in International Arbitration’, 5 Arbitration International 280 (1989); and note the doctrine of the ‘rights of thre defence’ in EU law [e.g., Case T-205/99 Hyper Srl v Commission (2002) ]   The norms (which may, subject to the lex arbitri / law of enforcement, be varied by the agreement of the parties) include the following:–

            (a)  the right to be heard: (cf., 1907 Hague Convention, art. 70); Wal Wal arbitration, (1935) 29 AJIL 690; 3 UNRIAA 1657, 42 RGDIP 751 (1935), Potter, ‘The Wal Wal Arbitration’, (1936) 30 AJIL 27; Hostages, (1980) ICJ Rep. 3, 38, 41 (paras. 82-83, 89). the M/V Saiga, Lowe, 48 ICLQ 187-199 (1999). Hague Convention 1907, arts. 62, 70; D.W. Shenton, ‘An introduction to the IBA Rules of Evidence’, 1 Arbitration International 118 (1985). Note the impact of the non ultra petita principle.

(b)  the right to due deliberation by duly constituted tribunal: Beagle Channel, 17 ILM 632, 643 (1978)

(c)  the right to a reasoned judgement: Hague Convention, 1907, art. 79;  Beagle Channel, 17 ILM 738 (1978) (Argentine Declaration of Nullity);  Arbitral Award of 31 July 1989 (Guinea Bissau v Senegal) (ICJ), 31 ILM 32 (1992).

(d)  the right to a tribunal free from corruption:  cf., Buraimi Oasis, above.

(e)  the right to proceedings free from fraud


5.         In principle, non-observance of these procedural norms renders the award a nullity: see the Umpire cases, Moore, International Arbitrations, vol. 2, pp. 1396-1409 (1898).  Nullification may be effected under the lex arbitri, or e.g., in the ICJ for Inter-State awards. Other courts may refuse recognition or enforcement of the award under the New York Convention, art. V(1)(b). For a useful brief survey see Shackleton, ‘Challenging arbitration awards: Pt II -Procedural Irregularity,’ New Law Journal November 29 2002, 1816-1817.






6.         The lex arbitri may empower arbitrators to deal with delay by the parties: see, e.g., UK Arbitration Act 1996, ss 1, 40, 41; Owsia, ‘Consensual Abandonment of Contract: Innovatory Developments in English Law in the Eighties Concerning Arbitration References,’ 8 J. Int. Arb. 55 (1991); Okekeifere, ‘The UNCITRAL Model Law and the problem of delay in international commercial arbitration’, (1997) 14/1 Jo. Int’l Arb. 125; Trappe, ‘The arbitration proceedings –fundamental principles and the rights of parties’, (1998) 15/3 Jo. Int’l Arb. 93.  It is less clear what may be done if the tribunal is the cause of the delay: see the UK Arbitration Act, ss. 1, 33. Note that on the substance of claims, municipal statutes of limitation do not bind international tribunals: Wena Hotels Inc. v Egypt, [ICSID, 2000], 41 ILM 896 at 915-917 (2002).





7.         Intervention in litigation is well established in municipal law and, in the context of the PCIJ / ICJ, in international law.  It is not a general principle of arbitration law. Institut de droit international, 1875, art. 16.  It is, however, sometimes the subject of express provision: see e.g., 1899 Hague Convention, art. 56 (1907, art. 84); Venezuela Preferential Claims, 9 RIAA 107 (Art. 6 of Protocols of Agreement).  Note also: ICJ Statute, arts. 62, 63;  ECJ Statute, art. 37.  See further Chinkin, Third Parties in International Law, (1993), Part II (pp.147-291 -includes pp.147-218 on the ICJ)


8.         Particular problems attend the arbitration of multi-party disputes.  The problem may be that different applicants or respondents have different interests in the same dispute, or that the same or similar parties have interests in different disputes touching upon the same facts. Note problem of deciding whether parties really are different, particularly in the context of corporate claims: CME v Czech Republic (2001), Lauder v Czech Republic (2001), published at .


9.         For an attempt to deal with the Dutco ‘different parties’ problem, see the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Arbitration Rules (1994), article 18,,  34 ILM 562 (1995):


Appointment of Three Arbitrators in Case of Multiple Claimants or Respondents


                                  Article 18


(a) Where

    (i) three arbitrators are to be appointed,

    (ii) the parties have not agreed on a procedure of appointment, and

    (iii) the Request for Arbitration names more than one Claimant,


the Claimants shall make a joint appointment of an arbitrator in their Request for Arbitration.

The appointment of the second arbitrator and the presiding arbitrator shall, subject to paragraph

(b) of this Article, take place in accordance with Article 17(b), (c) or (d), as the case may be.


(b) Where


    (i) three arbitrators are to be appointed,

    (ii) the parties have not agreed on a procedure of appointment, and

    (iii) the Request for Arbitration names more than one Respondent,


the Respondents shall jointly appoint an arbitrator. If, for whatever reason, the Respondents do

not make a joint appointment of an arbitrator within 30 days after receiving the Request for

Arbitration, any appointment of the arbitrator previously made by the Claimant or Claimants

shall be considered void and two arbitrators shall be appointed by the Center. The two

arbitrators thus appointed shall, within 30 days after the appointment of the second arbitrator,

appoint a third arbitrator, who shall be the presiding arbitrator.


(c) Where


    (i) three arbitrators are to be appointed,

    (ii) the parties have agreed upon a procedure of appointment, and

    (iii) the Request for Arbitration names more than one Claimant or more than one



paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Article shall, notwithstanding Article 15(a), apply irrespective of

any contractual provisions in the Arbitration Agreement with respect to the procedure of

appointment, unless those provisions have expressly excluded the application of this Article.



10        The problems may be circumvented by the appointment of tribunals of overlapping membership: Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction Co. Ltd. v. Eastern Bechtel Corp. (ADGAS), 21 ILM 1057 (1982); [1982] 2 Lloyds' Rep. 425; Redfern & Hunter, 3rd ed., 174-183.   But if that is not done, severe problems may arise: Dutco (Siemens AG and BKMI Industrienlagen GmbH v. Dutco Consortium Construction Co.) French Cour de Cassation, 1992) See C. Seppala, 8 International Arbitration Report No 4 (April 1993), 25; J-L DJlvolvJ, ‘Multipartism: The Dutco Decision of the French Cour de cassation’ 9 Arbitration International 197 (1993).  ** International Law Association, Report of the 66th Conference (1994), pp. 689-714 and Report of the 67th Conference (1996), pp. 603-622.



11.       For attempts to deal with the problem of separate but related arbitrations see the

Netherlands Arbitration Act 1986, article 1046 (26 ILM 921 (1987); Redfern & Hunter, 3rd ed., p. 179) [Court power to consolidate]; UK Arbitration Act 1996, s. 35 [parties power to consolidate]; A A de Fina, ‘Consolidation of Arbitration Proceedings in Australia?’, [2001] Int A. L. R. 164-171.   See further Hascher, ‘Consolidation of Arbitration by American Courts’, 1 J. Int. Arb. 127 (1984); Miller, ‘Consolidation in Hong Kong: the Shui On case’, (1987) Arbitration International 87.