International arbitration in England and Wales2 continues to be governed by the Arbitration Act 1996 (the “Arbitration Act”), to which no legislative amendment was made in 2014.3 The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, however, currently proposes amendments regarding the application of equality legislation to arbitration and mediation services.
B.1. Friendly Discussion as a Condition Precedent to Commencing Arbitration
The High Court recently upheld a contractual agreement to seek to resolve a dispute by friendly discussion prior to commencing arbitration.4 An agreement for the sale and purchase of iron ore provided for arbitration in London under the ICC rules and that in case of any dispute, the parties “should first seek to resolve the dispute or claim by friendly discussion. If no solution can be arrived at between the Parties for a continuous period of 4 (four) weeks then the non-defaulting party can invoke the arbitration clause and refer the disputes to arbitration.”