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Enforcing Arbitration Agreements: West Tankers – Where are we? Where do we go from here?

2009-05-12

Synopsis:

The February 2009 West Tankers ruling of the European Court of Justice has the unintended consequence of disrupting the flow of arbitrators' powers. The precise extent to which these are affected remains unclear, however. In its ruling, the Court stated:

"It is incompatible with Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 ... for a court of a Member State to make an order to restrain a person from commencing or continuing proceedings before the courts of another Member State on the ground that such proceedings would be contrary to an arbitration agreement."

Following this ruling essentially two questions arise: "Where are we?" and "Where do we go from here?". The former question involves an assessment of West Tankers' immediate implications. The second turns on an emerging consensus, encompassing comments from at least Germany, France and the United Kingdom, that legislative change is needed to attend to the unsatisfactory state of the law in this context. The Heidelberg Report 2007 on the Brussels I Regulation proposes amendments bringing proceedings ancillary to arbitration within the Regulation's scope, and to confer exclusive jurisdiction on the courts of the state of the arbitration. Should this proposal be supported?

The Institute has convened leading practitioners and academics, including one of the authors of the Heidelberg Report, to rise to the challenge of answering these questions. There will be ample occasion for discussion, so those attending are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas.

2 CPD hours may be claimed by both solicitors and barristers through attendance at this event.

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