The “Manifest Disregard of Law” Doctrine and International Arbitration in New York – Vol. 24 No. 2

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Author: Report by the Committee on International Commercial Disputes of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Published: August 2013



New York City is one of the world’s leading centers of international business, trade and finance. Its accessibility from anywhere around the world equals or exceeds that of any other world-class city. New York enjoys a legal system with a well developed body of commercial law and a sophisticated legal community that is well versed in international business and legal issues. Its laws and courts enforce agreements to arbitrate and support the autonomy of the arbitral process. Moreover, its courts have adopted a clear policy of deference to awards issued by arbitral tribunals. New York, then, is a logical seat for international commercial arbitrations.

However, some practitioners and commentators have questioned the desirability of New York as a seat for international arbitration upon the ground that the “manifest disregard of law” doctrine renders international awards issued in New York more vulnerable to being set aside. Given the otherwise clear benefits of arbitrating international commercial disputes in New York, the International Commercial Disputes Committee (the “Committee”) considered it important to evaluate whether the expressed concern regarding the manifest disregard doctrine is justified. In particular, the Committee has examined whether the doctrine as applied by New York courts renders New York a less desirable venue than other major international arbitration seats such as Paris, London, Switzerland, or Hong Kong.

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