HC Deb 20 April 1934 vol 288 cc1304-6

This Act, except the provisions thereof set out in the Second Schedule to this Act, shall apply in relation to every arbitration under any other Act passed before or after the commencement of this Act, as if the arbitration were pursuant to an arbitration agreement and as if that other Act were an arbitration agreement, except in so far as this Act is inconsistent with that other Act or with any rules or procedure authorised or recognised thereby:

Provided that this Act shall not apply to any arbitration to which the principal Act does not apply and no provision of this Act which expressly amends a provision of the principal Act shall apply to any arbitration to which that provision of the principal Act does not apply.—[Sir G. Ellis.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.54 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I am afraid that this subject is of a very technical nature, and the Committee will forgive me, therefore, if I stick closely to my notes on the matter. As I said when moving my first Amendment, arbitrations are of two kinds—arbitrations under an agreement and statutory arbitrations. In other words, persons sometimes refer their disputes to arbitration because they have agreed to do so, very often as a term in some business contract. But there may be no contract and no agreement at all. Some Act of Parliament may say, for instance, that someone's expenses are to be paid, and that the amount shall be agreed, or, in default of agreement, shall be referred to arbitration. That constitutes arbitration just as much as the former case.

When we come to consider the application of the Bill to statutory arbitrations we find that the matter is by no means clear and the object of the proposed new Clause is to make it clear. When the Bill was debated in another place, I do not think that this point was as much in the mind of those in charge of the Bill as it has been since the Bill left another place and it has been thought necessary to make plain what its provisions mean in regard to application to statutory arbitrations. What has been done has been to go carefully through all the Clauses of the Bill and to consider which of them ought to be made to apply to statutory arbitrations and which ought not. Some of the Clauses are suitable for application to statutory arbitrations and some are not. Those which are not suitable for such application have been expressly set out in a Schedule which I shall move later on, if this proposed new Clause is accepted by the Committee.

The other Clauses ought to apply to statutory arbitrations, and if the new Clause is carried they will so apply and the application will be made as clear as possible. I do not suggest that this clarity will be obvious to the ordinary layman who reads the Clause off-hand, or, if I may say so, even to some of us who are learned in the law. An Amendment of this kind is exceedingly difficult to understand at first sight, but it will be clear to lawyers who have to deal with the matter. The proviso has been put in for a special purpose. Some Acts of Parliament which provide for disputes being referred to arbitration contain words which say expressly that the Arbitration Act of 1889 is not to apply to that arbitration. In that case it is obvious that this Measure should not apply either.

12.59 p.m.


I should like to add a few words upon this proposed new Clause which I commend to the Committee. I think it is true that the Committee on the Law of Arbitration upon the recommendations of which this Bill was primarily based, were directing their minds really to the ordinary arbitration law as it applies to the ordinary arbitration agreements, rather than to those statutory provisions of which my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Sir G. Ellis) has spoken, under which references to arbitration take place. It has been found, however, on examination that certain of the provisions of this Bill can usefully be applied to statutory references. On the other hand, the recommendations being in their origin primarily directed to non-statutory arbitrations, there are certain provisions in the Bill which are not properly applicable to statutory references. The matter has been considered carefully and, if the Committee think proper to give the proposed new Clause a Second Reading, I think they can be assured that the Clause with the consequential Schedule which is to be moved later, will set out carefully and appropriately those parts of the Measure which can properly be applied to statutory references and those parts which cannot properly be so applied. I therefore have pleasure in commending the proposed new Clause.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.

First Schedule (Matters in respect of which the Court may make orders) and Second Schedule (Enactments repealed)agreed to.