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This chapter acts as a capstone to Part IV’s presentation of country reports. It presents the findings of a comparative analysis of arbitration laws in the different countries reported. This analysis focuses on the different issues presented in Parts I–III, including scope and interpretation of arbitration clauses, anti-arbitration laws and policies, arbitrator bias and misconduct, the public policy exception, and other limits on arbitrability. Thus, the country reports are reviewed here to determine areas of commonality and divergences across national laws relating to judicial intervention into the arbitration process. It will also assess possible trends in international commercial arbitration.
This chapter broadly reviews the relationship between the arbitration and judicial systems as well as substantive national laws that restrict the use of the arbitration process. The relationship is inherently in tension because two core principles are in conflict: independence of commercial arbitration and judicial intervention to ensure the fairness of the arbitration process. This chapter reviews and suggests how best to balance these two competing interests. This will include an analysis of the principle of separability (contract arbitration clauses are independent of the contract) and kompetenz–kompetenz (whether the arbitration panel or the courts are empowered to determine the jurisdiction of the arbitration panel and the scope of the arbitration clause). The chapter concludes by describing the structure and content of the chapters to follow and providing some final remarks. The editors would like to note that the scholarly contributors include some of the very best minds in legal scholarship. The list of contributors includes a diverse mix of scholars and practitioners from fifteen countries.
The popular image of the American legal system is that it is run amok with litigation-happy disputants. Whether this is true from an empirical perspective is debatable, but in fact American federal law and policy favors arbitration as the country’s preferred means of dispute resolution. This is a longstanding position dating back to the enactment of the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). However, the history of this Act and its implementation has been inconsistent. It was forgotten at one point as individual American states enacted statutes to limit the use of mandatory arbitration in consumer contracts. Eventually, the US Supreme Court recognized the FAA as prevailing law and voided state laws limiting the use of arbitration under the federal preemption doctrine.1 In more recent times, the US Supreme Court expanded the scope of private arbitration clauses to include statutory claims, such as in the areas of antitrust, collective bargaining, and civil rights. Even more recently, it has begun to limit the availability of arbitration by placing restrictions on class action arbitration.
A unique collaboration between academic scholars, legal practitioners, and arbitrators, this handbook focuses on the intersection of arbitration - as an alternative to litigation - and the court systems to which arbitration is ultimately beholden. The first three parts analyze issues relating to the interpretation of the scope of arbitration agreements, arbitrator bias and conflicts of interest, arbitrator misconduct during the proceedings, enforceability of arbitral awards, and the grounds for vacating awards. The next section features fifteen country-specific reviews, which demonstrate that, despite the commonality of principles at the international level, there is a significant amount of differences in the application of those principles at the national level. This work should be read by anyone interested in the general rules and principles of the enforceability of foreign arbitral awards and the grounds for courts to vacate or annul such awards.
The public debate about smart contracts, meant as self-help remedies grounded on distributed ledger technology, is filled with alarms and high expectations. They have been praised by the tech community as infallible software able to carry out the whole contractual cycle, from formation to enforcement. Conversely, several legal scholars have raised concerns regarding both smart contracts’ inability to reflect relational aspects of contract governance and the augmented complexity generated by the translation of an agreement into computer code. The chapter focuses the discussion on the potential areas which could effectively benefit from implementation of smart contracts. Firstly, it argues that smart contracts might be a viable tool to tackle effectively consumers’ inertia in triggering and enforcing their rights which are standardized and easily verifiable. Secondly, smart contracts have the potential to foster commercial relationships by lowering down transaction costs arising from lack of trust between merchants. Thus, smart contracts are likely to provide better alternatives to traditional tools of business practice, such as letters of credit and escrow agreements.
The product of a unique collaboration between academic scholars, legal practitioners, and technology experts, this Handbook is the first of its kind to analyze the ongoing evolution of smart contracts, based upon blockchain technology, from the perspective of existing legal frameworks - namely, contract law. The book's coverage ranges across many areas of smart contracts and electronic or digital platforms to illuminate the impact of new, and often disruptive, technologies on the law. With a mix of scholarly commentary and practical application, chapter authors provide expert insights on the core issues involving the use of smart contracts, concluding that smart contracts cannot supplant contract law and the courts, but leaving open the question of whether there is a need for specialized regulations to prevent abuse. This book should be read by anyone interested in the disruptive effect of new technologies on the law generally, and contract law in particular.
This chapter acts as an introduction to the book by discussing the intersection of law and technology. The topics examined include formalism versus contextualism, form versus context, enforceability, and regulation.