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Unit information: Transnational Arbitration in 2015/16

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Unit name Transnational Arbitration
Unit code LAWD30128
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Hill
Open unit status Not open

LAWD10008 Contract, LAWD10011 Tort.



School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Arbitration has become the dispute resolution method of choice in international business; transnational contracts frequently include a clause referring any disputes which may arise between the parties to arbitration. This unit aims to explain how arbitration works as a method of dispute resolution and to explore the legal framework in which international commercial arbitration operates. This framework comprises four main components: first, the law governing the arbitration agreement (which determines the agreement's validity and scope); secondly; the rules which govern procedural aspects of an arbitration (such as the constitution of the tribunal, the tribunal's powers and the powers that may be exercised by a national court in relation to an arbitration); thirdly, the law (or other considerations) by reference to which the tribunal determines the parties' dispute; and fourthly, the law governing enforcement of an arbitral award through the courts (whether in the country of origin or in another country).


  • to understand how arbitration differs from litigation and to assess its strengths and weaknesses as a method of dispute resolution;
  • to understand how the essentially private process of arbitration interacts with the legal system;
  • to understand the interrelationship between applicable norms which derive from a variety of different sources at different levels (the agreement of the parties, arbitral institutions, national law and international conventions);
  • to understand the various stages of an arbitration and the different ways in which legal problems can arise at these various stages;
  • to be able to identify the legal problems posed by complex factual situations and to understand how the applicable norms provide answers to such problems.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of arbitration as a method of dispute resolution and of the legal framework which regulates international commercial arbitration
  • reveal an understanding of the ways in which the legal system can impact upon the process of arbitration
  • show some understanding of the different approaches taken by different legal systems to certain key issues
  • show a firm grasp of the important legal principles in the field of international commercial arbitration and be able to apply them accurately to offer reasoned solutions to hypothetical problem questions.

Teaching details

Two-hour seminars (ten); one-hour lectures (ten)

Assessment Details

  • Formative: two formative assignments (one in the Autumn term, the other in the Spring term).

 The first formative assessment for this unit is mandatory; the second formative assessment is optional.

  • Summative: three-hour examination

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

Born, International Arbitration: Law and Practice (2012) Redfern & Hunter, Law and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration (5th edn, 2009) Moses, The Principles and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration (6th edn, 2015) Lew, Mistelis & Kroll, Comparative International Commercial Arbitration (2003) Born, International Arbitration: Cases and Materials (2011)