Arbitration Law

Chapter 11



The principle of party autonomy

11.1 English law has always conferred upon the parties to an arbitration agreement a good deal of autonomy in the number of arbitrators and as to the procedure for their appointment, with the law operating very much as a safety net by providing mechanisms for appointment if none have been agreed and presumptions as to the number of arbitrators. The supportive approach of the law, which was implicit in the Arbitration Act 1950, is explicit under the Arbitration Act 1996, which is designed to provide “a comprehensive regime” in place of the “incomplete regime” under earlier legislation.1 The appointment provisions of the 1996 Act all operate only where there is no agreement to the contrary or where the parties cannot actually operate what they have agreed, and it is of even greater importance under the 1996 Act for the parties to have considered in advance exactly what they require, as if they fail to do so the default provisions in the 1996 Act will apply. The checklist of matters open to the parties on which to agree consists of:

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