New report casts light on how courts treat arbitrations

Osborne Clarke has recently published a one-of-a-kind extensive survey of over 500 arbitration-related cases in the English courts between 2010 and 2020. The report, "Arbitration in Court: Observations on over a decade of arbitration-related cases in the English courts", with a foreword highlighting some key observations by Sir Bernard Eder, offers a rare insight into English arbitrations.

Arbitration-friendly English courts

The analysis confirms the general arbitration-friendly approach of the English judiciary. The report breaks down cases in relation to each section of the Arbitration Act 1996 to which they apply. Overall, the number of arbitration-related cases heard by the English courts has remained fairly consistent and followed a downward trend, with only challenges and appeals seeing an increase over the last decade.

The detailed breakdown reveals that there is a clear trend for English courts to uphold awards and lend support to the arbitral process. The report draws some interesting conclusions: for example, that appeals or challenges based on more than one section of the Act are less likely to succeed overall.

Patterns of usage

The report allows a rare insight into the type of arbitrations which are seated in London and/or which come before the English courts. Such details are usually hidden given the confidential nature of arbitration, but these have been made public as a result of the court process. It provides a snapshot of what seems to have been taking place in English arbitration over the last decade or more, including details of:

  • which industries seem to be using English arbitration the most;
  • the most popular arbitral institutional rules used in English arbitration;
  • the amounts involved in relation to disputes and how these break down in relation to disputes administered by different institutions;
  • the most common nationalities of parties using English arbitration; and
  • the most usual time period between award and judgment (and how this breaks down in relation to different sections of the Act).

The report also includes a look at how arbitration might be affected in future by two recent decisions of the UK Supreme Court and includes a useful flowchart of the steps to be considered when seeking leave to appeal from the English courts.

Osborne Clarke comment

The results of the report are likely to be of widespread interest to the international arbitration community and those involved in, or considering, arbitration in England. Please contact us if you would like to discuss any aspect of it.