National International Commercial Arbitration – Vol. 32, No. 4

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Author: Franco Ferrari*

Published: March 2022

Arbitral Process
Choice of Forum and Place of Proceedings
National Legislation
Arbitral Adjudication
Enforcement of Awards


Given the abundance of literature on international commercial arbitration, it is not easy for a book on international commercial arbitration to stand out. Still, the work edited and co-authored by Stephan Balthasar does stand out. Anyone turning to International Commercial Arbitration: A Handbook will easily realize that it is a treasure trove, and an up-to-date one at that.  It contains 16 country reports covering the main arbitration jurisdictions (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States), a report focusing on the New York Convention, one addressing “Investment Treaty Arbitration” as well as an introduction by the editor offering comparative reflections on international commercial arbitration in general, and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (hereinafter “Model Law”) in particular. The wealth of information provided by these reports is astounding; it allows practitioners to find solutions to any important arbitration issue they may face in relation to any of the jurisdictions covered.

But the usefulness of these reports goes beyond the practical aspect just referred to; they are also very useful for scholars, because they provide a very detailed, informational background against which scholars can test their theories using a comparative approach.  Indeed, the structure of the reports—common to all reports—allows for an easy comparison of the solutions adopted in the various jurisdictions to any given arbitration issue. And this comparison shows, among others things, that there is not one unitary concept of international arbitration, because, as stated by the editor of the Handbook, “arbitration remains embedded in various ways in national legal systems.”  This, however, means, to use an oft-quoted statement by F.A. Mann,  that “[i]n the legal sense no international commercial arbitration exists . . ., every arbitration is a national arbitration, that is to say, subject to a specific system of national law,”  including the law of the seat.


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* Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration, and Commercial Law, New York University.