Skip to main content

Unit information: International Commercial Arbitration in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name International Commercial Arbitration
Unit code LAWDM1005
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Hill
Open unit status Not open

Law of Contract LAWDM0061 (or equivalent) Law of Tort LAWDM0062 (or equivalent)



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

Description including Unit Aims

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;
  • to understand how the current legal framework came into being and how it might be reformed;
  • to understand the key theoretical debates which have played a role in shaping the laws development.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, the student will be able, to a degree commensurate with the level at which the unit is taught, 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;
  • understand the process whereby the system for the regulation of international commercial arbitration has arrived at its current position
  • show an understanding of the goals of legal regulation in this field and assess the theoretical debates that have shaped the current system of regulation.

Teaching Information

Two-hour seminars (eleven) and 10 lectures (1 hour).

Assessment Information

Summative assessment: a 3000 word essay (33%) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. The remaining Intended Learning Outcomes will be assessed in a 3 hour written examination (67%).

Formative assignment in the Autumn term.

Reading and References

  • Born, International Arbitration: Law and Practice (2012)
  • Redfern & Hunter, Law and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration (6th edn, 2015)
  • Moses, The Principles and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration (2nd Ed, 2012)
  • Lew, Mistelis & Kroll, Comparative International Commercial Arbitration (2003)
  • Born, International Arbitration: Cases and Materials (2011)