Review of the Arbitration Act 1996

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Review of the Arbitration Act 1996 to ensure it is as clear, modern and efficient as possible. We aim to begin work in early 2022.

The problem

The Arbitration Act 1996 sets out an enduring framework for arbitration which has helped to make the UK – and London in particular – a leading destination for commercial arbitrations. Its 25th anniversary presents a good opportunity to review it and ensure it remains up to date in all respects, particularly as other jurisdictions have enacted more recent reforms.

The project

The Law Commission will review the 1996 Act with a view to ensuring it is as clear, modern and efficient as possible and, if necessary, suggest possible amendments. The aim is to maintain the attractiveness of England and Wales as a “destination” for dispute resolution and the pre-eminence of English Law as a choice of law.

The specific matters to be addressed will be determined in the coming months, through consultation with stakeholders. However, as part of our consultation on our 14th Programme of Law Reform, we received a number of submissions on areas of the 1996 Act that could be included. These possible areas include, but are not limited to, issues relating to:

  • the power to summarily dismiss unmeritorious claims or defences in arbitration proceedings
  • the courts’ powers exercisable in support of arbitration proceedings
  • the procedure for challenging a jurisdiction award
  • the availability of appeals on points of law
  • the law concerning confidentiality and privacy in arbitration proceedings
  • electronic service of documents, electronic arbitration awards, and virtual hearings.

Next steps

The Law Commission will launch the review during the first quarter of 2022 and aims to publish a consultation paper in late 2022.


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Project details

Area of law

Commercial and common law


Professor Sarah Green