Familiar legal framework
All arbitration in Ireland, whether domestic or international, is governed by the Arbitration Act 2010. The UNCITRAL Model Law (as revised in 2006) has been adopted in its entirety into this Act. However, the Act does provide for a number of modifications – the most significant of which are listed below:
Section 2 provides that all references to an arbitration agreement in the Act shall be construed in accordance with Option 1 of Article 7 of the Model Law, which requires the arbitration agreement to be in writing.
Commencement of arbitration proceedings
Section 7 provides that arbitral proceedings shall commence on the date agreed by the parties or, in the absence of any such agreement, the date on which a written communication containing a request for the dispute to be referred to arbitration is received by the respondent.
Section 8 provides that, when interpreting any provision of the Model Law, judicial notice shall be taken of the travaux préparatoires of UNCITRAL and its working group relating to the preparation of the Model Law.
The designated court
Section 9 designates the Irish High Court as the relevant court for the purposes of the Model Law.
Powers of the High Court
Section 10 confers on the High Court the same powers in relation to Articles 9 and 27 of the Model Law, as it has in any other action or matter before the Court except that, the High Court shall not make any order relating to security for costs or for discovery of documents, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Determination of High Court to be final
Section 11 provides that the decision of the High Court in relation to any matter referred to it under the 2010 Act (i.e., those permitted under the Model Law) shall be final and binding, and that there shall be no right of appeal from that decision. This means in effect that the High Court is the court of first instance and the court of final jurisdiction in relation to all arbitration applications.
Section 12 amends the time limit specified in Article 34(3) of the Model Law by providing that the application to the High Court to set aside an award on the grounds of public policy may be made within 56 days from the date on which the circumstances giving rise to the application became known or ought to have become known to the party concerned, rather than the three-month period from the date when the party concerned received the award as specified in Article 34(3).
Number of arbitrators
Section 13 amends Article 10 of the Model Law by providing that, unless the parties agree otherwise, the arbitral tribunal shall consist of one arbitrator rather than three.
Section 18 gives the arbitral tribunal wide powers in relation to the awarding of interest unless the parties agree otherwise.
Security for costs
Section 19, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, gives the arbitral tribunal the power to order a party to provide security for costs.
Allocation of costs
Section 21 provides that the parties may make such provision as to the costs of the arbitration as they see fit. It therefore allows the parties to agree on the allocation of costs in the arbitration agreement.
Section 22 provides for the immunity of arbitrators, including the person or body appointing them and certain other persons engaged in the arbitration proceedings, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in the discharge of their duties.