The author is the general counsel of the American Arbitration Association. He wishes to thank Vicki M. Young for her assistance in the preparation of this article. This paper was presented to the International Council for Commercial Arbitration at the Xllth International Arbitration Congress in Vienna, November 1994.
The role of governing law in international commercial arbitration is a highly significant one, in many respects. First, the effectiveness of international commercial arbitration depends on the predictable enforcement of arbitral agreements and awards, which is facilitated by treaty law and the arbitration laws of individual states. Second, while parties to international commercial agreements enjoy broad autonomy in fashioning their arbitration arrangements, a choice of the place of arbitration most often will determine the law governing the arbitral proceedings and important questions of arbitrability, procedure, court intervention and enforcement. Last, while modem arbitration regimes limit judicial review and interference with arbitration, particularly international arbitration, most legal systems contain mandatory provisions of law from which the parties may not depart. Aimed at safeguarding the fairness of arbitration, such norms will include, at the very least, the right to notice, representation, an opportunity to be heard and the independence of the arbitrator.