PhD award: UNCITRAL Model Law in International Commercial Arbitration

‘Testing the Uniformity of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration’, Dean Lewis
PhD award: UNCITRAL Model Law in International Commercial Arbitration

Dean Lewis

The UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration provides a pattern that law-makers in national governments can adopt as part of their domestic legislation on arbitration.

This thesis identifies the uniformity objective of the Model Law and tests it with a comparative study between Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Three tools were developed to test the uniformity of the Model Law. Applying these tools with a comparative study of the adoption of the law and over 300 related cases demonstrated a limited achievement of the uniformity objective.

Since amendments made in 2006, the Model Law has required an approach to its interpretation that is similar to treaty interpretation techniques. These techniques are equally applicable to the Model Law even before its amendment. It is also shown that a uniformity objective does not require countries to be exactly the same. A measure of similarity can achieve the uniformity objective.

Applying the tools developed in the thesis, it is shown that most differences in the way the Model Law is implemented and in the adopted texts are of little significance when considered by the courts. It is clear that the courts strive to approach the interpretation of the Model Law in a similar way and this promotes the business of international arbitration albeit the results of court decisions between countries are seldom the same.

This thesis was supervised initially by Dr Camilla Andersen and then by Prof Francois De Bois and Mr Masood Ahmed.

Dean is a Partner of the international law firm PinsentMasons, based in Hong Kong.

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