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School of Law

International Commercial and Investment Arbitration

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

This international commercial arbitration (ICA) course will concentrate on the core legal knowledge and basis of ICA. It is designed to examine the legal theories underpinning arbitration as a dispute resolution process or mechanism set within international commercial transactions and relevant relationships. 

The lectures are structured to proceed from these theoretical norms to commencement, the agreement to arbitrate, setting up the arbitral tribunal, the arbitral procedure, the award, enforcement and challenge of the award and the role of national courts. Special sessions of the course will be dedicated to arbitration in three specialist areas. These are international construction contracts; maritime arbitration and trade arbitration. By its very nature, international commercial arbitration is comparative since it involves the application of a matrix of national laws, arbitration rules and international conventions. The course will be taught in this manner to enable the students appreciate its core legal basis, cross cultural attributes and international perspective. 

This will give the students qualitative choice and equip them to compete in the global world of international commercial arbitration in their future careers. This also positions SOAS as a clear player in the international commercial arbitration providers market, not just as an institution with regional expertise but also possessing relevant international commercial law expertise.

This course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators so that on successful completion, students wishing to become members of the Institute are granted an exemption from the introductory stage and can apply to become associate members of the Institute.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course students should acquire academic and non-academic measurable outcomes such that they can demonstrate this skill acquisition in the areas listed below.

  • Have detailed knowledge and understanding of the theoretical basis of international commercial arbitration;
  • Have detailed understanding of the role and function of arbitrators and institutions in international commercial arbitration
  • Have detailed understanding of the workings of international commercial arbitration;
  • Be able to evaluate the relationship between the various legal regimes in international commercial arbitration and its trans-national nature;
  • Be able to determine and apply arbitral principles, laws and rules to factual scenarios;
  • Understand the peculiar attributes and practice of arbitration in maritime, trade and construction disputes;
  • Be able to apply the knowledge gained in professional practice.
Non-academic Skills:
  • Be equipped to deal with legal issues under pressure of time and space – assessed through the written examination;
  • Research skills – know where to find materials as needed – assessed through essay and problem based questions in the examination;
  • Structure output from research in an accessible manner – assessed through both essay and problem based questions in the examination;
  • Identify relevant facts from fiction – assessed through problem based questions in the examination
  • Teamwork skills – imparted through participation in moots and mock arbitration sessions;
  • Communication (written and verbal) skills – assessed through written examinations and imparted through moot or mock arbitration sessions;
  • Presentation (written and verbal) skills – assessed through written examinations and imparted through moot or mock arbitration sessions

Method of assessment

Assessment Weighting: 60% unseen written examination and 40% coursework (one 6,000 word essay)

All coursework may not be resubmitted.

Suggested reading

There is no one textbook that will be recommended for this course but a list will be provided to the students for guidance. The primary materials will be the international conventions, national laws, arbitration rules, court decisions and arbitral awards that will be examined in the lectures.