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13 COMMENCING AN ARBITRATION: TIME LIMITS

Arbitration Law

Chapter 13

COMMENCING AN ARBITRATION: TIME LIMITS

STATUTORY AND CONTRACTUAL TIME LIMITS

13.1 The date at which an arbitration commences must be ascertained for two reasons. First, the general law of limitation of actions applies to arbitrations in the same way as it applies to other civil actions: just as a claimant in the English courts has to issue a claim form within the various periods laid down by the Limitation Act 1980, a claimant in arbitration proceedings has to commence his arbitration within those same periods.1 Secondly, the parties may by their contract have agreed that the arbitration must be commenced within a specified time, failing which the right to go to arbitration, or indeed the claim itself, will be barred. In the case of contractual time limits, s 12 of the Arbitration Act 1996, replacing the Arbitration Act 1950, s 27, confers on the court a discretion to extend the time available in exceptional circumstances for commencing the arbitration. This chapter will thus consider statutory limitation of actions, contractual time limits, and the power of the court to extend time in the latter case.

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