International Arbitration: an alternative to the courts or a forum in its own right?

Senior Common Room at Birmingham Law School
Thursday 22 March 2012 (12:30-14:00)

If you wish to attend please contact Dr Anastasia Vakulenko at

Staff Research Seminar: Dr. Julian Lew, QC


  1. The 2010 Queen Mary Study on “Choices in International Arbitration” found that 71% of the major corporations favoured arbitration over state courts. The choice is influenced by the parties’ ability to select the arbitrators, the form and place of arbitration, and the procedure to be followed.
  2. According to another Queen Mary Study on “International Arbitration: Corporate Attitudes and Practices” (2008), respondents indicated that in over three quarters of arbitrations the award was complied with voluntarily, and where necessary, most corporations were able to enforce their foreign awards within one year and with little or no difficulty.
  3. The principal reason for the success of arbitration worldwide is the acceptance by almost 150 countries of the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Its effect is to impose obligations on national courts (i) to give effect to agreements to arbitrate, and (ii) to recognise and enforce arbitral awards issued in other treaty countries. In fact, it is significantly easier to enforce an arbitration award around the world than to enforce a national court judgment.
  4. It is clear that there is an increasing use of arbitration to determine disputes in both the national and international arenas. Why? National laws and courts have become increasingly supportive (and less jealous) of the arbitral process: is this proactive or reactive to parties’ practice?
  5. This seminar will explore why arbitration has been accepted as a preferred dispute resolution system. It will consider the interaction between the choice of arbitration and the sovereignty and authority of national courts. Is arbitration an alternative to national courts? Or is international arbitration a forum in its own right? Do parties have the right to exclude the jurisdiction of national courts? What is the regulatory framework: national law, international law instruments, or party autonomy?

Discussant: N. Jansen Calamita




  • Staff Research Seminars take place at 1pm in the Senior or Junior Common Room, Birmingham Law School
  • A sandwich lunch and a glass of wine will be provided from 12:30 pm
  • Postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome to attend.

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