SPECIAL FORUM: SWEDISH ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE ON PUBLIC POLICY IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION, SEPTEMBER 4-5, 2008
A PREFACE: PUBLIC POLICY: STILL THE UNRULY HORSE?
Hans G. Bagner
More than 180 years ago, an English judge allegorically described public policy as: … a very unruly horse, and when once you get astride it you never know where it will carry you. It may lead you from sound law. It is never argued at all, but when other points fail. Public policy remains today as murky a concept as when it was first introduced in the text of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“the New York Convention”) enacted on June 10, 1958. Not surprisingly, public policy is still a controversial topic in the context of international commercial arbitration.
Against the backdrop of the 50th anniversary of the New York Convention, the Swedish Arbitration Association successfully hosted the Swedish Arbitration Days held on 4-5 September 2008 in Stockholm (“the Conference”). With a stellar cast of “who’s who” in international arbitration, including prominent scholars, policy shapers, and practitioners, the Conference drew more than 180 eager participants who gathered to revisit this elusive topic once more.
This issue of Stockholm International Arbitration Review presents a collection of papers originally presented at the Conference. These papers may not only shed some light on the controversy centered on the application of the public policy exception under the New York Convention, but may also spark new opinion on the subject matter. A brief overview of the public policy debate and the Conference highlights follows.