High volumes of international trade and investment means there is a compelling need to resolve disputes in a neutral forum.
International arbitration offers such an opportunity, providing a flexible, effective and confidential way of resolving highly complex disputes of vast economic worth.
Saunders Law is a niche litigation firm based in Central London. Our renowned lawyers offer specialist advice and representation to help businesses and professional individuals thrive in our increasingly globalised world.
We advise all manner of clients, from prominent high net worth individuals to medium to large businesses and global corporate groups. Read more about our clients.
Speak to our international arbitration law experts in London today
For expert assistance with international disputes, contact Saunders Law today for a initial discussion of how we may be able to help.
Call us on 0207 632 4300 or make an enquiry online.
Our international arbitration experience
We regularly help businesses and investors prepare and handle international arbitration. We understand what is at stake and pride ourselves on protecting our clients’ interests.
Because of our close relationships with senior business leaders and managers of legal counsel, most of our work comes from either repeat business or our deep connections in commerce and industry.
Our international arbitration work includes:
- Resolving disputes involving very high-value assets, such as gold mines and mineral rights
- Pursuing claims against host states for compensation for breaches of bilateral investment treaty obligations
- Enforcing international arbitration awards
The firm has handled international and commercial arbitrations under the rules of several arbitral institutions, including:
- The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
- The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)
- The Permanent Court of International Arbitration (PCIA)
- The London Metal Exchange (LME)
- The London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA)
- Grain & Feed Traders’ Association (GAFTA)
- The Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations Ltd (FOSFA)
- The Refined Sugar Association (RSA)
Our approach to international arbitration
No matter the international and commercial dispute being arbitrated, we pride ourselves on providing the very highest technical excellence and truly commercial advice tailored to our clients’ specific circumstances.
We aim to find and achieve an effective solution as quickly as humanly possible, to avoid any waste of time or resources. We work discretely, ensuring our clients’ confidentiality is maintained, and are transparent about the costs involved.
As well as our depth of expertise, we strive to provide an exceptional quality of service. Clients can expect a call back the same day after making an enquiry, and our team are always on hand to discuss the particulars of the case.
A brief guide to international arbitration
What is international arbitration?
Arbitration is a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution intended to help parties resolve a wide range of legal disputes privately with the assistance of a qualified arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision, upon hearing the submissions of the parties, will be legally binding and enforceable.
The exact arbitration process that applies to a dispute will depend on the terms of any arbitration clauses in the relevant contract between the parties, the law governing that contract, and the rules of the relevant arbitral institution overseeing the dispute.
International arbitration specifically is a reliable method of resolving cross-border disputes. It tends to afford a high level of neutrality that may be difficult to maintain through litigation under the jurisdiction of one party’s home courts.
Find general information about methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution here.
What are the benefits of arbitration over court proceedings?
As mentioned, one concern when approaching a commercial dispute is where to litigate. Parties understandably would prefer to litigate in their home courts where they feel most comfortable and may perceive themselves to have an advantage.
Arbitration offers a neutral ground. Arbitrators may be chosen because they are different nationalities to the parties – and we often act for non-UK nationals and businesses – and a neutral location may also be selected. International arbitrators in general tend to be highly experienced in the global commercial arena so are well placed to support businesses through cross-border disputes.
Other benefits of arbitration include:
- Voluntary – parties must consent to the arbitration process and will have usually provided for this by including arbitration clauses in their contracts.
- Flexibility – as touched upon, the parties have a great deal of power to choose the arbitrator and decide where, when and in what language arbitration takes place.
- Privacy – arbitration hearings usually take place in private, and the parties may decide to keep the proceedings and the outcome confidential. Court proceedings on the other hand tend to be public.
- Binding – the outcome of arbitration is usually final, and it can be difficult for parties to challenge the award, other than in narrow circumstances. This helps parties avoid a lengthy and resource-consuming appeals process.
- Enforceable – awards made during arbitration are usually simple to enforce. The United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, New York 1958 (the New York Convention) obliges over 160 ratifying states to recognise arbitration awards as binding and to allow enforcement other than in narrow circumstances.
- Cost – arbitration can be simpler, cheaper and faster than proceeding with court litigation.
The location of arbitration
Above all else, the rules of the parties’ chosen arbitral institution govern the process. However, the chosen location of the arbitration seat is also crucial in determining the legal context in which arbitration operates. For example, choosing London as the arbitration seat means English arbitration law will apply. Ideally, parties should always choose a seat:
- That is a signatory of the New York Convention.
- Where the law prefers arbitration over litigation and the courts’ role is to support rather than intervene.
- That is generally pro-arbitration, respects the parties’ intentions and has the resources to support an efficient and effective arbitration process.
Role of the courts in international arbitration
The law of the arbitration seat determines the role of the national courts in the arbitration process. Courts may have powers to support arbitration in various ways, including:
- Staying or dismissing proceedings where one party has issued in breach of an arbitration agreement.
- Issuing anti-suit injunctions to prevent a party from commencing proceedings in a court outside of the EU.
- Giving parties the freedom to agree their own arbitration procedure to appoint their own tribunal while also making provision where parties are unable to agree a procedure.
- Issuing Freezing Orders and other orders to prevent a party dealing with, hiding or disposing of assets or documentary evidence.
- Compelling witnesses to provide evidence.
- Enforcing arbitration awards.
Arbitration agreements and arbitration clauses in commercial contracts
A key aspect of international arbitration is that it must be specifically chosen and consented to by the parties. The decision to go ahead with arbitration may therefore be set out in a dedicated arbitration agreement after a dispute has arisen. Alternatively, the parties may have agreed in advance by inserting an arbitration clause into their commercial contracts.
Difficulties can arise where the clause has standard or boilerplate wording. Ideally, the clause should be carefully drafted to match the intentions of the parties and support their goals by attempting arbitration.
The agreement or clause will typically set out details such as:
- The agreed seat of arbitration.
- The number of arbitrators.
- The rules that will govern arbitration.
Saunders Law - Pragmatic and effective specialists in international arbitration
At Saunders Law, we have the expertise to act for, and protect the best interests of, businesses and investors resolving disputes via international arbitration. We are well-known for effectively handling very high-value matters and tirelessly fighting our clients’ corners.
Operating from offices in the centre of London’s legal district, we’re also ideally located to guide clients through the international arbitration process.
For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion about our international arbitration services and how we may be able to help, please contact us today.