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

Tuesday 12 May 2009 17:30 to 19:30



The Hon Sir Anthony Colman, Essex Court Chambers


Alex Layton QC, 20 Essex Street; Chairman of the Board of Trustees, British Institute of International and Comparative Law - The Heidelberg proposal - does a better answer exist?

Professor Adrian Briggs, Oxford University - How the rule of law could and should have worked on the Kirchberg plateau

Professor Julian Lew QC, Head of the School of International Arbitration (Queen Mary), 20 Essex Street - The disruption which may flow to the exercise of arbitrators' powers

Professor Thomas Pfeiffer, Heidelberg University; co-author of the Heidelberg Report 2007 - The Heidelberg proposal and a first glance at the Commission's green paper

Adam Johnson, Herbert Smith - What litigators will make of the ruling

Professor Jonathan Harris, Birmingham University and Serle Court - Should a foreign judgment allegedly in breach of an arbitration clause be recognised in England after West Tankers?


The Commission has recently published a Green Paper on the Brussels I Regulation, which is available here. Of particular interest is Point No. 7 entitled "the interface between the Regulation and arbitration".


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.


Media partner: