Following a recent major agreement between the Government and the Hague based Permanent Court of Arbitration there is a significant opportunity for Dublin to become a centre for dispute resolution.

Dublin has a huge amount to offer as an international arbitration venue, including a highly respected legal system. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, Ireland will also be the only fully common-law, English speaking country in the EU. Currently cities including Paris, Zurich and Stockholm have been seen as seats for arbitration, however newer places, including Dublin could now attract high profile cases. This has the potential to be a major boost to the economy.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes outside the courts, where both sides agree to be bound by the decision of an arbitrator. It is typically used in the construction sector or by large businesses whereby two disputing parties agree to submit their dispute to a neutral third party for determination. For international disputes the parties may agree that the Courts of a particular country are to have exclusive jurisdiction, or they may agree that all disputes are to go to arbitration.

There are a number of reasons why parties prefer to arbitrate;

  1. The parties can designate the proceedings as confidential.
  2. The parties can select the neutral decision-makers based on industry/sector expertise.
  3. The proceedings may be more flexible than court proceedings.
  4. Generally, there is limited scope to repeal the decisions (or ‘awards’) of international arbitration tribunals.
  5. The arbitration awards are more easily enforceable worldwide, as compared to court judgements.

Why Dublin?

The promotion of Dublin as a venue for international arbitration is being led by Arbitration Ireland, an Association dedicated to the promotion of Dublin as a seat or venue for international arbitration. They work to position Dublin both domestically and internationally as a viable option compared to other venues. As a neutral, common law jurisdiction that is integrated within the EU, Dublin offers many advantages over its rivals. ​

Ireland’s neutrality is also a significant advantage as perception of a venue is important in the choice of a location – it is important to have a venue where all parties are comfortable. Irish law and the Irish legal system has a number of other advantages including:

  1. The 2010 Arbitration Act, which operates to promote arbitration. Ireland has arbitration-friendly court procedures and an ethos of minimal court interference in arbitral disputes.
  2. The Irish judiciary is highly regarded and has an international record of integrity, commercial awareness, fairness and impartiality. The government supports Ireland as a venue for the resolution of international disputes.
  3. Irish lawyers are well regarded internationally. There is a large pool of highly skilled common law and English speaking lawyers in Ireland, who act as an important support for the international business that flows through Ireland. Considerable expertise has been built up by Irish corporate law firms in areas such as funds, tech, pharma, financial services and aircraft leasing.
  4. The Irish system has a strong, long-established and successful domestic regime for the enforcement of arbitral awards and court judgements. As an EU member, Irish judgements can be enforced in all other EU Member States.

Government Support

In tandem, the Irish Government has established a group to implement Ireland’s International Legal Services Strategy. This Government-led initiative will lead the strategic and co-ordinated approach to promoting Irish Law and Irish Legal Services to the international business community. This Implementation Group is chaired by former Taoiseach John Bruton, the “Ireland for Law” initiative is a key action of the Government’s Brexit Strategy.

The international arbitration market is large, and growing. There have been many positive developments in Ireland over the past 15 years, which contribute to the attractiveness of Dublin as a potential seat for international arbitrations. As we face into a lengthy period of uncertainty, the growth of the Arbitration sector has the potential to make a very significant contribution towards Dublin’s economy.

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