On May 20, 1998, Ireland took a significant step forward in attracting international commercial arbitration with the coming into force of the Arbitration (International Commercial) Act, 1998 (Number 14 of 1998). The first part of the long title of the Act sums up very simply its intent, namely “[A]n act to enable effect to be given in the State to the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.”
Before this Act, arbitration in Ireland was governed solely by the Arbitration Acts, 1954-1980, which were very similar to the English Legislation prior to the 1996 Arbitration Act in that jurisdiction. While entirely adequate for domestic arbitration, the old Acts were wholly inappropriate for international commercial arbitration. Ireland’s growing and vibrant economy (especially in the field of financial services and computers) needed, and demanded, a new international commercial arbitration law.
The format of the 1998 Act is interesting in that the UNCITRAL Model Law is reproduced in a Schedule to the Act, which is quite unlike other jurisdictions which used the Model Law’s text (with the necessary modifications) as the narrative of their arbitration law. What this article proposes to do is to describe the mechanisms used by the Act to give effect to the Model Law, and give the reader a flavor of what is possible and not possible when conducting international arbitration in Ireland.