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The University of Southampton

LAWS6145 Principles of Commercial Arbitration

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. This module is a pre-requisite for Advanced Commercial Arbitration. 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 arbitration 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. It should be remembered that standard forms providing for English law and arbitration are used widely throughout the world, and so this is a subject with global reach.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The main principles which govern the English law of commercial arbitration and the extent to which English law is influenced by internationally accepted principles
  • The commercial and public values underpinning arbitration law and its processes
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
  • 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
  • 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 … 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; - related principles of separability and competence; - 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.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods: One 2-hour class per week (three-weekly cycle of two 2-hour lectures and one 2-hour seminar) 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 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

A Blackboard website is available to the students with links to further e-resources.

Merkiin. Arbitration Law. 



Essay or problem question


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (24 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (24 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (24 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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