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The University of Southampton

LAWS2039 Principles of Commercial Arbitration Law

Module Overview

In commerce, arbitration is often 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. 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

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,
  • 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.
  • display clarity and objectivity in written discussion demonstrating an awareness of issue of academic integrity.


The following is an indicative list of module content. These topics may change year-by-year, reflecting current developments and allowing syllabus evolution - 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 lectures and 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.

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
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

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:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate. All recommended sources are available to students free of charge, either on the Internet, or on Blackboard, or on the legal databases. The main mandatory 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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