The University of Southampton

LAWS2039 Principles of Commercial Arbitration Law

Module Overview

This module covers the principles of English arbitration law, apart from consumer arbitrations, hence the inclusion of the word "commercial" in the title. In commerce, arbitration is often, but not always, the preferred method of resolving commercial disputes. Disputes relating to international trade, foreign investments, insurance and reinsurance, and construction are commonly resolved by arbitration, as are disputes under a charterparty, a bill of lading or a ship sale agreement. Arbitration agreements may make their own provision for applicable law and procedure, but often refer to arbitration under a specified set of arbitration rules. Some arbitration rules are of general application in the commercial field, such as the AAA, ICC, and LCIA rules. Others may apply to specific sectors, such as the various sets of ARIAS rules for insurance and reinsurance, the LMAA rules covering maritime arbitration other than salvage claims under Lloyd's open form, the GAFTA rules on trade of grain and feed, the FOSFA rules for trade of oilseeds, oils and fats and the Lloyd’s rules covering salvage claims. The module covers the main principles adopted in English law. The English law was largely, but not entirely, codified in the Arbitration Act 1996, giving effect to many fundamental principles, which are accepted internationally. The application of the main provisions of the 1996 Act therefore forms the backbone of the course.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

By the end of the module you should be familiar with the main principles governing the English law of commercial arbitration. You should be able to: • handle the legal sources, • to understand how the English law has been influenced by internationally accepted principles of arbitration, and • to understand the arguments advanced in the cases, and in the secondary sources, such as books and articles.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • understand the main principles which govern the English law of commercial arbitration and the extent to which English law is influenced by internationally accepted principles.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse relevant legal materials, including statutes, case law and standard arbitration clauses,
  • identify and explain the main internationally-accepted principles underpinning the law relating to commercial arbitration,
  • describe and assess existing areas of debate about what the law is and what it ought to be, both in the UK and internationally,
  • apply the legal principles, with appropriate legal authorities, in the solution of complex problems,
  • appraise and criticise existing debates in U.K. and international arbitration law, using appropriate legal research skills,
  • display clarity and objectivity in written discussion demonstrating an awareness of issue of academic integrity,
  • locate and analyse relevant legal and other primary and secondary source materials including model contracts.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • distinguish relevant from irrelevant materials,
  • identify and analyse key issues,
  • think critically, develop coherent arguments in writing,
  • manage your time effectively.


The main principles of the English law of commercial arbitration, including: • arbitration agreements and their interpretation; what is an arbitrable dispute; • structure of the Arbitration Act 1996; applicability; its (stated) principles; mandatory and non-mandatory provisions; • seat of the arbitration; • principle of separability; • arbitration agreements and third parties (principles); • enforcement including of the negative obligation: stays, anti-suit injunctions - but not the EU element; • judicial control of arbitration; jurisdiction, serious irregularity and error of law; • judicial support for the arbitral process (principles); • tiered dispute resolution; • human rights aspects.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching for this module is by weekly 2-hour lectures and fortnightly 1-hour tutorials. Lectures will introduce the main principles and structure of the subject. You are expected to provide the main input to the tutorials, where the main issues of law are discussed. The most important part of learning is your own independent study. This will, however, be closely guided, and firmly tied into the lectures, tutorials and assessment. Most of the discussion will revolve around the main legal decisions, and the arguments that have been advanced, and accepted or rejected in the cases. In tutorials you will have the opportunity to present arguments orally to a group of peers and defend your position under challenge. E-learning E-learning facilities are provided through Blackboard. Lectures will be recorded in case any part of a lecture is missed, and for revision. Computer-based quizzes will be used alongside the lectures and tutorials to help provide a direction for your study. Reading Recommended reading will be provided for each tutorial, and there will be recommended books, which will, however, form only the initial basis for study.

Preparation for scheduled sessions100
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Merkin. Arbitration Law. 

Blackboard. A Blackboard website is available to the students with links to further e-resources. All cases and statutes are available using the legal databases.



Mock Examination


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Examination  (1.75 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Examination  (1.75 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Examination  (1.75 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


All recommended sources are available to students free of charge, either on the Internet, or on Blackboard, or on the legal databases. The main recommended text is on iLaw.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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