Reports on London’s Commercial Court and from major arbitration institutions have shown that London is the most popular place for international dispute resolution.
English law is still the preferred choice for the resolution of international disputes. The Commercial Court in London heard cases involving parties from 72 countries in the year ending in March 2020, and the London Court of International Arbitration was referred 406 cases from 138 different countries in 2019.
This is perhaps not a major surprise. English law is highly respected, viewed as well-developed in many parts of the world, provides freedom of contract and has a pro-business approach. English law’s appeal is further strengthened by the relative speed and efficiency with which commercial disputes can be resolved via the English courts. The judicial independence and general reputation of the judiciary also contribute to the popularity of English law and London’s status as an international dispute resolution centre.
If arbitration takes place in England or Wales, the Arbitration Act 1996 provides a framework for how it should be conducted; ensuring transparency and fairness. As an alternative to court proceedings or other methods of alternative dispute resolution, arbitration offers a private way of resolving differences. It also has the benefit of allowing an arbitrator to be chosen who is an expert in the subject matter involved in the dispute and the parties involved can tailor the process to their particular needs. Arbitration can also be quicker and less costly than litigation.
Such factors will all enhance London’s appeal. But with virtual hearings and video conferencing having been available in London’s Commercial Court and at arbitral hearings long before the coronavirus pandemic struck, hearings and arbitrations have continued smoothly throughout the pandemic, with only limited adjournments. Such continuity in a time of great disruption can only further enhance London’s reputation.