Tag Archives: choice of law

The law governing an arbitration clause

By Prof Jonathan Hill, Professor of Law (University of Bristol Law School).

A leading commentator has observed that ‘[t]he choice of the law applicable to an international commercial arbitration agreement is a complex subject’ (Born, International Commercial Arbitration (2nd edn, 2014) p 472). This complexity is reflected by the case law illustrating that the courts of different countries adopt different approaches to certain common scenarios. One area of divergence is the case where parties to a contract containing an arbitration clause choose state A as the seat of arbitration, but the law of state B as the law governing the matrix contract: which law governs the arbitration clause – the law of the seat or the law of the country chosen to govern the substantive contract?

Some legal systems, influenced in part by the doctrine separability (according to which a contractual arbitration clause is, conceptually, treated as a contract separate and independent from the matrix contract) and article V.1.a of the New York Convention of 1958, take the view that, in the absence of an express choice by the parties of the law applicable to the arbitration clause, the law of the seat should govern questions of material validity. English law, however, has never taken this view – although, arguably, the Court of Appeal came close to doing so in C v D [2007] EWCA Civ 1282. Continue reading

Brexit and private international law

By Prof Jonathan Hill, Professor of Law (University of Bristol Law School).

GlobesIt is unlikely that many voters, when deciding how they would vote in the recent EU referendum, would have given any thought to the implications of Brexit for private international law in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, Brexit is likely to have profound consequences in this (admittedly) complex and specialist field. The greatest effect will be felt in the commercial arena: in the context of cross-border litigation, for example, the EU has established, in civil and commercial matters, a common framework for the jurisdiction of national courts, the determination of the applicable law and the reciprocal recognition/enforcement of judgments granted by Member State courts. Brexit will also take the United Kingdom out of the EU-wide systems for the allocation of divorce jurisdiction and the mutual recognition of divorces and nullity decrees. Continue reading