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.

International arbitration in Dublin

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 is also the only fully common law, English speaking country in the EU.

Cities like Paris, Zurich and Stockholm are all seen as seats for arbitration. However, newer places like Dublin are now coming to the fore and starting to attract high profile cases.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes outside of the courts. Both sides must agree to be bound by the decision of an arbitrator.

Arbitration 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:

  • The parties can designate the proceedings as confidential.
  • The parties can select the neutral decision makers based on industry expertise.
  • The proceedings may be more flexible than court proceedings.
  • Generally, there is limited scope to repeal the decisions – or ‘awards’ – of international arbitration tribunals.
  • The arbitration awards are more easily enforceable worldwide, as compared to court judgements.

Why Dublin is a great location for arbitration

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.

It works to position Dublin both domestically and internationally as a viable option for dispute resolution when compared to other locations. As a neutral, common law jurisdiction that is integrated with the EU, Dublin offers many advantages over its rivals. ​

Ireland’s neutrality is a significant advantage because, when choosing a location, it can be important to have a neutral venue where all parties feel comfortable.

Irish law and the Irish legal system has a number of other advantages too . These include:

1. The Arbitration Act 2010

The Arbitration Act 2010 provides a recognisable and internationally accepted code of international arbitration law in Ireland.

It was originally devised by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and operates to promote arbitration.

This act means Ireland has arbitration-friendly court procedures and an ethos of minimal court interference in arbitral disputes.

2. The Irish judiciary’s reputation

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.

In 2012, the Dublin Dispute Resolution Centre also opened beside the Four Courts – right in the heart of the city’s legal quarter. This is a modern, purpose-built international arbitration centre, which aims to provide a one stop shop for discreet arbitration and dispute resolution.

Open 24 hours, it caters to the needs of national and international dispute resolution professionals arranging arbitrations, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.

3. The reputation of Ireland’s legal sector

Irish lawyers are well-regarded internationally. There is a large pool of highly skilled common law and English speaking lawyers in Ireland. They act as an important support for the international business that flows through Ireland.

They are highly experienced too. Ever since FDI began flowing into Dublin in the early 90s, professional services has been one of the city’s key industries. Legal professionals are well-represented and offer considerable expertise in the likes of tech, pharma and financial services.

In Dublin, there are countless legal practitioners and domain experts readily available to help with the provision of arbitration services – particularly in the areas of commercial, investment and sports arbitration.

4. A history of enforcing arbitration decisions

The Irish legal system has a strong, long-established and successful domestic regime for the enforcement of arbitral awards and court judgements.

It’s also worth noting that, as an EU member, Irish judgements can be enforced in all other EU member states too.

5. Ireland’s common law system

As mentioned above, Ireland is the only fully common law, English speaking country in the EU since Brexit took place.

This means Dublin is the ideal location for arbitration in cases between European and UK parties under English law. This is true of disputes between parties in Europe and any other common law country too.

Government Support for arbitration in Ireland

The Irish Government has also established a group to promote Irish law and Irish legal services among the international business community. So the sector’s wealth of resources and expertise is only going to improve.

The Ireland for Law initiative was a key part of the Government’s Brexit strategy. As a result of this, Dublin’s international arbitration market is growing.

There have been many positive developments in this area over the past 15 years, which contribute to the attractiveness of Dublin as a potential seat for international arbitrations. With many uncertainties facing the future of the Irish economy, the growth of Dublin’s arbitration sector is expected to continue.

For more information on Dublin’s arbitration sector, visit Arbitration Ireland’s website.

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