The School of International Arbitration, Queen Mary, University of London and Paris, the Home of International Arbitration held a joint conference on Wednesday 8th June on the theme of “The New French Law on Arbitration: the ultimately efficient arbitral process?” The co-chairs of the conference were Loukas Mistelis, Director of the School of International Arbitration, and Charles Kaplan, President of Paris, the Home of International Arbitration. There were speakers from Paris and London , including Michael Polkinghorne, who spoke on the new provisions regarding the validity and effect of the agreement to arbitrate. Of particular note is the fact that under the new French decree, an international arbitration agreement is no longer subject to any requirement as to form. Laurence Kiffer spoke on the increased jurisdiction of the Courts to intervene in support of the arbitration process. The moderator of the panel, V.V. Veeder, Q.C., asked searching questions, notably as to how an arbitration agreement concluded by telepathy might be enforced.
On the second panel Tim Portwood, explained the legal framework for international arbitration procedure in France : this is based on the absolute freedom of the parties and the arbitrators to apply their chosen procedure , subject only to minimum standards of due process and a newly enacted principle of procedural celerity and fairness. Marie Stoyanov explained how the new decree imposes shorter time limits for challenging of awards, makes enforcement easier and allows parties to opt out of the challenge process altogether. This session, which was moderated by Audley Sheppard, gave rise to numerous questions from the floor.
The conference was followed by a drinks reception.