The European, Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2014


Author: Andrew Lenny and Úna Ní Mhurchú


The Arbitration Act 2010

The Arbitration Act 2010 (the 2010 Act) repealed all previous arbitral legislation and effectively codified the law in this area into one Act of Parliament. It was signed into law on 8 March 2010 and entered into force on 8 June 2010. It applies to all arbitrations held in Ireland after the date of entering into force, both international and domestic.

The main purpose of the 2010 Act is to bring Irish law into line with international best practice by adopting the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and applying it to all arbitrations that take place in Ireland.

The 2010 Act provides a default framework to be applied to arbitrations in Ireland in circumstances where the parties themselves have not agreed to an alternative position or procedure. The 2010 Act provides certainty in relation to the arbitral process in Ireland while maintaining the independence of the arbitral process and protecting the autonomy of the parties who have chosen to arbitrate and agreed on the application of certain procedures.

Use of arbitration in Ireland

Arbitration as the preferred method of binding alternative dispute resolution is commonplace in commercial contracts and, in the construction sector, is almost the exclusive method. Insurance disputes in Ireland are also very frequently resolved by arbitration.

Traditionally, prior to the complete overhaul and change of Ireland’s arbitration law in 2010, arbitration was perceived as being prone to delays. However, the combinationof the 2010 Act and the transformation of litigation efficiency in the Commercial List of the Irish High Court over the past few years has completely turned around the culture among practitioners, and now the rapid resolution of cases is the focus among the Irish legal community.

One of the principal advantages of arbitration arises from the highly open and international nature of the economy and the almost routine situation whereby a counterparty to a contract is from overseas. The private, independent and internationally enforceable outcome of the arbitral process is particularly appropriate for an economy such as Ireland’s.

Most arbitrations conducted in Ireland are domestic in nature, very often ad hoc, and, in the case of construction disputes, routinely conducted under the auspices of the Arbitration Procedure (2011) of Engineers Ireland, the Irish professional body for engineers.

Given the rapid development of Ireland as an open and international economy, international arbitration is now a regular feature of dispute resolution with increasing numbers of cases, particularly under the ICC Rules, involving an Irish party or Dublin as a seat.

The Preamble to the 2010 Act gives the force of law in Ireland to the following international treaties:

  • the UNCITRAL Model Law (as amended by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on 7 July 2006);
  • the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses (24 September 1923);
  • the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards (26 September 1927);
  • the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (10 June 1958); and
  • the Washington Convention on the settlement of investment disputes between states and nationals of other states (18 March 1965).

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This article first appeared in the The European, Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2014 and is reproduced with the kind permission of its publisher Global Arbitration Review.

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