HL Deb 15 February 1979 vol 398 cc1465-81

6.16 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 1 [Judicial review of arbitration awards]:

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 9, after ("aside") insert ("or remit").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this is a minor technical Amendment to deal with a possible loophole which has only recently been noticed. I hope therefore that your Lordships will not object to my moving it at this late stage. The abolition of the court's jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to an arbitrator's award for error of law or fact on its face, which Clause 1(1) is, among other things, intended to achieve, appears to be arguably incomplete, because that subsection refers only to the court's power to "set aside" on those grounds.

Theoretically, at any rate, the court might therefore still have jurisdiction on a motion under Section 22 of the Arbitration Act 1950 to remit an award to the arbitrator where an error appears on its face. This Amendment is designed to deal with that possible loophole. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.18 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 24, at beginning insert ("in any case where an award is made without any reason being given")

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this too is a minor Amendment. Your Lordships will recall that Clause 1(6) was introduced into the Bill by an Amendment which I moved on Report following suggestions made in the House.

That subsection gives effect to what I think was a generally agreed principle, namely, that an arbitrator should not be required to give reasons, perhaps a long time after an award had been given, when he had kept no record of the proceedings or the reasons for his award. It was felt that this could be burdensome and embarrassing to the arbitrator in those circumstances.

However, on further reflection a further point has emerged. Where an arbitrator even though no prior notice has been given to him by a party, none the less gives reasons, but they are insufficient reasons, I do not think that the same argument about fairness and embarrassment to the arbitrator applies. And rather than leave the parties (and, if one of them appeals, the court) in doubt about the arbitrator's reasons, it would seem sensible, in a proper case, to enable the court, as it were, to ask the arbitrator to perfect them.

This Amendment is therefore intended to have the effect that where an arbitrator has given some reasons, as opposed to no reasons at all, a party will not be prevented from applying for an order under Clause 1(5) requiring the arbitrator to give further and sufficient reasons for his award, even though he had not given prior notice to the arbitrator that a reasoned award would be required and had no special reason for not having done so. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [Exclusion agreements affecting rights under sections 1 and 2]:

6.20 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 3: Page 4, line 36, leave out from ("agreement") to ("unless") in line 37.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, it may be convenient to consider Amendment No. 4 in conjunction with this Amendment. Your Lordships will recall that on Report I put down an Amendment which was in exactly the same terms as this Amendment, the purpose of which was and is to define a "domestic arbitration agreement" for the purposes of the Bill in such a way as to ensure that the domestic or non-domestic character of an arbitration agreement is determined once and for all at the time the agreement is made. The present definition is formulated by reference to Section 1(4) of the Arbitration Act 1975. I think the convenience of assimulating the two definitions as far as possible will be agreed, although there is no necessary functional connection between the two provisions.

However, the defect of this method of providing a definition in the Bill as it now stands is that, by incorporating the 1975 Act formula, it would result in the domestic or non-domestic character of an arbitration agreement being determined at the time the proceedings commenced. The result would be that a fortuitous change in the circumstances of the parties after the agreement was made might result in an arbitration agreement becoming, or ceasing to be, a domestic arbitration agreement for the purpose of determining whether the parties had or had not validly excluded applications to the court under the Bill. That, your Lordships may think, would be undesirable.

However, I withdrew the Amendment on Report stage because the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, indicated that the definition in Section 1(4) of the 1975 Act, which was tailored for the separate purpose of international enforcement of arbitral awards under the New York Convention, might itself be defective in relation to the power of the court to refuse to stay proceedings where such international enforcement was involved. While I am willing to consider as a separate issue and apart from this Bill any problems which may have arisen in that field, in my view it would not be desirable to alter the definition in the 1975 Act merely to accommodate this Bill, which concerns a different area of the law and which uses the concept of a "domestic arbitration agreement" for a different purpose. I beg to move.


My Lords, I wish, first, to apologise for the absence of my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone who, owing to other commitments, cannot be here. I was absent overseas when these matters were discussed in Committee and on Report, so I cannot help the House in this matter. All I can convey to noble Lords is the support of my noble and learned friend for the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 4, line 40, at end insert— ("(7) In this section "domestic arbitration agreement" means an arbitration agreement which does not provide, expressly or by implication, for arbitration in a State other than the United Kingdom and to which neither—

  1. (a) an individual who is a national of, or habitually resident in, any State other than the United Kingdom, nor
  2. 1469
  3. (b) a body corporate which is incorporated in, or whose central management and control is exercised in, any State other than the United Kingdom,
is a party at the time the arbitration agreement is entered into.")

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Exclusion agreements not to apply in certain cases unless entered into after commencement of arbitration]:

6.25 p.m.

Lord DIPLOCK had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 5: Page 5, line 9, after ("unless") insert ("either (a").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, it may be convenient if, with this Amendment, we take at the same time Amendment No. 7. These Amendments were designed to deal with a point originally raised in Committee by my noble and learned friend Lord Wilberforce, and reiterated by me, perhaps a little out of order, on Report. This is designed to deal with a point which from time to time arises in maritime contracts where the parties select, as the law governing their contract, a foreign law, particularly, for example, French law, the law of New York State, as in a New York Produce Exchange form of contract which is widely used.

If disputes arising under that contract were left to go to a court, the normal forum would be the French court or the New York State court, but not infrequently the parties, because they like London arbitration, put in London arbitration as the forum for their disputes. If they had gone to the French court in that rare case where, under the doctrine of renvoi as applied by the French courts, or to the New York State courts, then they would have accepted the view of the French court or the New York State court as to what the English law was. If they accept, instead of the French court or the New York State court, an arbitration as the better way of solving their disputes and choose a London arbitration, then, if they are content to accept the view of the arbitrator as to what English law is in the event of it being applicable under French law by the doctrine of renvoi, there seems no reason why they should not be allowed to do so.

The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, mentioned during the debates on this matter that there was a strong feeling among American lawyers—I can confirm this—that the risk, when they have chosen a foreign law, of having the case come before the English courts should be eliminated. This is designed to do that because I can see no reason, either in principle or practice, why one should not accede to their wishes.

Having said that, your Lordships will observe that Amendments Nos. 6 and 8 provide the same thing in a more elegant way and, having seen those Amendments, I do not propose to move my Amendment, No. 5.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

6.28 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 6: Page 5, line 9, after ("unless") insert ("either (i)").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, has most graciously conceded the greater elegance of Amendments Nos. 6 and 8, which really effect the same purpose as was embodied in his Amendments Nos. 5 and 7. I am most grateful to him, to the noble and learned Lord Lord Wilberforce, and to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, all of whom raised this question with me in the course of the debates. As our purpose is to remove, as far as we can, obstacles in the way of bringing these arbitrations to London, and as there seem to be circumstances where, if these Amendments were not included, some obstacles would in some cases remain, I have willingly agreed, now that I have fully understood what it is all about, that this change should be made in the Bill.


My Lords, I rise only to indicate my welcome for the Amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I should have been quite happy with the Amendments tables by my noble and learned friend Lord Diplock, but I am even happier with those of the Lord Chancellor. I would only add that inserted, as this Amendment necessarily is, in a fairly complicated clause with negatives and exceptions, it makes a rather complicated subsection, but I do not think there is anything to be done about that at this stage. However, clearly the side note will have to be shortened or lengthened, whoever has the duty to deal with it. If it is lengthened, it will be almost as long as the subsection. I ask the indulgence of the House in drawing attention to a matter which is, strictly speaking, outside its responsibility. Apart from that, I welcome and support the noble and learned Lord's Amendment, and thank him very much for considering this rather obscure and perhaps esoteric, but not unimportant point.


My Lords, I rise merely to express my gratitude to the noble and learned Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 8: Page 5, line 12, at end insert ("or (ii) the award or question relates to a contract which is expressed to be governed by a law other than the law of England and Wales").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. The Bill, as I think we all hope and expect, will enhance the attractions of London as an international centre for arbitrations. It is agreeable to be told, as the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, and others have told us in the course of our discussions, that parties, and particularly foreigners, are anxious to arbitrate in London where, in their view, the expertise of our judges, lawyers, and arbitrators, as well as our highly developed commercial law, ensures that disputes are competently and fairly dealt with. However, it has emerged that there is an existing hindrance in our present arrangements; namely, the ability of parties who wish to do so to abuse the right of recourse to our courts of law, and to do so as a means of delay. It is also thought that the penalty in costs is no longer sufficient to deter such abuses. The Bill, I am confident, however, will go far to abolish such abuses.

In addition, where parties have recourse to the courts the Bill would allow the matters raised to be more speedily and satisfactorily disposed of by a straightforward appeal, rather than by the special case procedure. That is an aspect of the Bill which perhaps, in our concern to deal with present abuses and to attract business from abroad, has not received the emphasis which, in my view, it deserves.

We have also gone wider in the Bill by striking at delays generally, and have given the arbitrator a potent weapon to discourage parties who try to delay the arbitration proceedings themselves. In future, with the court's authority, the arbitrator will be able to proceed with the arbitration where a party defaults in complying with his directions. For example, he will be able to make a valid award in default of a defence if the party concerned is dilatory in presenting it.

I know that there are feelings in some quarters that the Bill does not go far enough, while in other quarters there are complaints that it goes too far, and so one is left with the reassuring feeling that therefore it must be about right. Those questions relate to the way the Bill deals with the parties' right to exclude intervention by the courts. I do not underestimate the concerns which have been expressed, but my feeling is that the Bill represents a reasonable compromise, and in regard to the much debated "special category disputes" it maintains a desirable flexibility of approach for the future by allowing the law in those cases to be modified, if necessary, when some experience has been gained of the new procedures. That, in my view, is the best practicable arrangement, and, as your Lordships know, it implements the recommendation of the highly representative committee on whose report the Bill is based.

I have been strengthened in this view since my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade has recently made some inquiries in arbitration circles, and has, I understand, been assured by a number of major bodies that the treatment in the Bill of the "special category disputes", when coupled with his power to modify the Bill's effect upon them, is both acceptable and satisfactory.

In conclusion, I wish to thank those of your Lordships from all parts of the House who have taken a vital and valuable part in our discussions on what has been a very technical piece of legislation, and I confess to having been enormously assisted myself. Happily, there is considerable expertise in this House in this field, and this has been made readily and generously available. We have had the benefit of advice not only in the House itself from your Lordships, but also in correspondence and in informal discussions, and I know that the Bill is all the better for those exchanges. In particular, I once again express my gratitude and that of the Government to Mr. Justice Donaldson and the other members of the Commercial Court Committee, without whose report it would be extremely unlikely that a Bill of this kind would have seen the light of day for a very long time.

I have been surprised to learn that in some quarters we have been criticised for moving too fast in this matter, though most criticism has been the other way. I can only hope that after the efforts of your Lordships, and myself, and those advising me, to get the Bill right and to send it to the other place in what is I think an agreed form, it will be approved of quickly there. I believe, as I think we all do, that the Bill's enactment will help to maintain London's position in the forefront of arbitration business, and will thus contribute to those essential invisible earnings which bring so much benefit to this country and to its economy. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

6.38 p.m.


My Lords, as I said a little while ago, I was absent while much important work took place on the Bill following Second Reading. Having spent many years in another place, and, as a Law Officer, having had to introduce Bills of a similar nature, I cannot but reflect upon how essential it is that such Bills should start in this House, because in another place one would not have had the assistance of the noble and learned Lords, Lord Diplock and Lord Wilberforce, or of course the noble Lord, Lord Hacking; one would not have had the assistance of such expertise so as to have been enabled to consider a Bill of such importance and such technical complexity. I hope that following all the work that has been done on the Bill in this House it will, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, go through another place speedily, though I heard the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, say, when dealing with another Bill earlier today, that we ought not to do all the work in this House, otherwise there will be a case for the abolition of the other House, which is in contrast to what some people suggest from time to time.

I wish to congratulate the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for having introduced the Bill into the House and for having been enabled, with the assistance of the noble and learned Lords and the noble Lord to whom I have referred, to present the Bill now to the other place. The Bill may or may not cure all the defects which we have heard about, regarding arbitration law and the practice of arbitration in this country, but it certainly goes a considerable way towards doing that. Therefore, like all who have spoken on the Bill, I hope that it will attract back to London—the place where so much arbitration ought to be held—arbitrations which in recent years have gone elsewhere. In conclusion, I again congratulate the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor upon having intro duced the Bill.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, during the progress of this Bill through this House I, in common with others of your Lordships who have taken an active interest in it, have received a number of helpful letters, which have resulted in some of the Amendments which have been made. But some of those letters have shown a misunderstanding, as I think, of the way in which the Bill will be operated in practice. Since I was in on the discussions which led to the recommendations by the Commercial Court Committee on which the Bill is based, and have been in close contact with Sir John Donaldson, as chairman, and the other judges of the Commercial Court who are members of the Commercial Court Committee and who will be responsible for giving effect to its provisions, it may be helpful if I were to give my understanding of how, in certain respects about which fears have been expressed, it is intended to apply the Bill in practice.

My Lords, the substitution, by Clause 1, of an appeal to the High Court on a question of law arising out of an award for the statement of the award as a special case is to prevent misuse of the procedure for purposes of delay. The essential difference is that a special case is unenforceable until the decision of the High Court on the question put, even where the award is one in which, whichever way the question goes, the plaintiff is entitled to recover something under it; and, in addition to that, there is an appeal to the Court of Appeal from the High Court as a matter of right. Under the new procedure, the award becomes enforceable as soon as it is made. If the appellant wishes to appeal on a question of law and prevent enforcement, he must apply promptly to the court; and what is important is that the court is given wide powers to impose conditions on leave to appeal on a question of law.

Such conditions, which I expect will be frequently imposed, are that there should be payment into court of the whole or part of the claim, or payment into a joint account, or the provision of security for the amount of the award; and I anticipate with every confidence that that power will be exercised robustly by the court in any case where there are grounds for suspicion that the appeal is intended for the purpose of delay. Furthermore, under the new procedure there is very limited power for further appeal. It is not of right; there must be a certificate by the judge that the question raised is sufficiently important to justify a further step. However, under Clause 2 the Bill conserves the consultative case, and that involves delay. But it is only where there would be a substantial saving in costs, which normally would be a case of eliminating a great deal of expensive and lengthy evidence, that the court has power to grant what will now become an exceptional method of appeal on a point of law.

The second point I wish to make (because a fear to the contrary has been expressed) is that the new procedure will not increase the number of cases which are brought to be reviewed by the High Court on points of law. The whole effect of it will be to reduce the number. Under the present procedure, it is difficult for an arbitrator to refuse the request of a party, sometimes backed by leading counsel, to state his award in the form of a special case for the opinion of the court; and, if he refuses, it is difficult for the court, in the absence of an award, to decide whether the case is one in which it is appropriate to grant the leave which the arbitrator has refused. In the result, under the present procedure it is very seldom that an arbitrator in fact refuses the right to go to the court, with all the consequent delay.

Under the new procedure, where you have to obtain the leave of the court unless all parties agree, the court will not give leave unless there is a good arguable case that the arbitrator has gone wrong in law; and where it does give leave, it has the power to make these robust conditions to which I have already referred. If I may be permitted a prediction, the effect of the change to the new procedure will be that there will be brought before the court fewer cases with the consequent delay before the award of the arbitrator can be enforced.

The next point I want to make—because I think there is a great deal of misapprehension on it—is that the Bill does not make the giving of reasons compulsory in all cases. In the great majority of domestic arbitrations and many international arbitrations in the commodity markets, there is no dispute as to the law applicable: the question is a question of fact. They are what I described, I think, at Second Reading, as quality arbitrations, not "holiday" arbitrations as was printed in Hansard. There, the questions are: Are the goods up to contract quality? Or, in a construction contract, a building contract: Are the materials and workmanship of good quality? What is a fair price for the variations?—and the like. It is very rare in practice, in cases which are not maritime, commodity or insurance cases, that, today, the parties ever ask for the award to be stated as a special case. Indeed, when I gave a lecture on the special case to what is now the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, many of the most experienced arbitrators there—in construction work, in house building generally and in council work—had never in their lives been asked to state their award as a special case. So there is no compulsion to state reasons in cases which are purely quality arbitrations.

Another piece of reassurance which I think it is desirable to give is that when reasons are given they can be very simply expressed in ordinary language and not in this rather technical form which case-stated cases now take. England is almost unique in not requiring arbitrators to give reasons, however short in summary they may be, for their awards; and it is generally satisfactory for the parties to know why the case was decided in the way that it was. But this Bill will not require elaborate reasons to be given; that can be done very simply, very shortly, in nearly all kinds of arbitration. The arbitrator, under the Bill, as a result of the Amendments which have been made, will know when reasons are required. He will know when there is a point of law which the parties may want to have reviewed by the court; and I have no doubt that in practice the parties who contemplate a possible appeal upon a point of law will ask the arbitrator to deal with it in his award.

Next, may I come to special category disputes. All these are in an area where the greatest contribution has been made, and is still being made, to the development of English and worldwide commercial law. That is the reason why today English law is chosen as the law to govern so many commercial contracts between foreigners who have no connection with this country. It is the reason that has made London arbitration pre-eminent in the commercial world. There have been many suggestions for inclusion or omission of various other kinds of contract from the special category. The compromise—for it was a compromise—is, I think, right at present, bearing in mind that omission from the special category is for ever. A fresh Act of Parliament would be required to put another category of contract into the special category; whereas inclusion in the special category—and I should like to emphasise what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has already said, and as the Commercial Court Committee has already emphasised—is for an experimental period during which it will be possible to see how the new system works.

Once abuse of the case-stated system has been cured by the new system, as I believe it will be cured, commercial interests may wish to retain the new procedure for reviewing a question of law either for all the contracts put initially into the special category or for some of them—for instance, for contracts which are in standard terms. The commercial interests involved will have the opportunity of making representations to the Secretary of State if, as a result of experience, they think it is desirable that either all the special category contracts or some of them should be removed from it. The period which the Commercial Court Committee had in mind as being the experimental period was a period of two or three years. It seems to me that it is a prudent policy to take the opportunity of seeing how the new procedure works before abandoning the possibility of a review of an award by the High Court on a question of commercial law—something which has served the development of the commercial law in this country so well for more than a hundred years.

Finally, a small point on which I think there has been misunderstanding; that is, on the new powers in Clause 5 conferred upon the court to empower arbitrators to proceed ex parte in default of appearance or the taking of some steps by one of the parties. In many domestic arbitrations today, arbitrators do proceed ex parte either under the specific rules applying to the arbitration or under their inherent powers at common law. Clause 5 in no way diminishes those existing powers. They are expressly preserved by Clause 5(5); and arbitrators—and this is a typical example—under the National House Builders' Council arbitrations can rest assured that they can continue to proceed ex parte as, under their present practice, they do in what I am told is quite a considerable number of cases.

Those are the points on which, from the letters I have received, it appeared that there had been perhaps some misunderstanding. In view of what has been said about the various advice which noble Lords have received from interested parties, I am in a position to say today that the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators fully supports the Arbitration Bill, as now amended; and, looked at with proper understanding of how it is intended to be applied in practice, I can wholeheartedly commend the Bill as a valuable reform of the procedure in domestic and international arbitration and as one which is calculated to preserve and enhance the pre-eminence of London as a centre of international arbitration. I should like to add my thanks to those of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, to the Lord Chancellor for promoting this Bill.

6.59 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has remarked, this is a moment for thanks. I should like to extend my personal thanks to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for bringing this measure so swiftly—a matter not for criticism—before this House. I should like to couple with those thanks the senior officers of the Department of Trade and of the Lord Chancellor's Department, most conscientiously and patiently led by Mr. Michael Kerry and Mr. Thomas Legg and my special thanks to the Government and to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, personally, for giving me such easy and open access to his advisors. In recent weeks and, indeed, in recent days, they received telephone calls from all over North America. Outside this House, thanks and credit are also due to Mr. Mark Littman of the London Arbitration Group whose first meeting was held in the Middle Temple Hall on the afternoon of Thursday, 23rd June 1977 and to those who have supported him—particularly Mr. Reuben Clark, an American lawyer in London, who spent a great deal of time and effort in support of the work of that group. Finally—and not least—thanks, as have already been attributed in this House, are due to Mr. Justice Donaldson and the Commercial Court Committee over which he presided.

Having moved 29 reasonable, sensible, and constructive amendments to this Bill, and having had all 29 rejected in the form that they were moved, I am not able to advise the House that the Bill is better without these good Amendments; but I recognise that there must be give and take, and I recognise too—as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor explained—that there must be a balancing of conflicting interests. As I shall can- didly admit, I was probably wrong on some of the points that I made. But if I did not persuade, my Lords, I have been persuaded. Compromise, especially over the treatment of special category disputes, despite the conflicting words in which the Secretary of State for Trade has referred to the noble and learned Lord, has led this Bill still into waters which I believe may cloud its future.

My sole endeavour was to contribute to the forming of a Bill which would make for improvement of all arbitration in the United Kingdom, but especially international arbitration which will not come to us unless we provide an attractive forum in the form of speed, efficiency and fairness. In recent travels which I have undertaken during the passage of this Bill, I can confirm that there remains an increasing need for good, international arbitration forums.

Secondly, I can confirm that there is an increasing interest in all international arbitration forums and I am able to refer your Lordships to a seminar—indeed there are many of them—which the International Chamber of Commerce held in Paris in January, and I attended another seminar on Tuesday of this week at the Los Angeles County Bar Association in California. Thirdly, I can give an assurance from my travels that there remains a high preference to come to London for the settlement of international arbitration. In giving that confirmation, I shall read an extract from a letter, other parts of which I have read to support various arguments that I have presented to your Lordships during the course of the debates on this Bill. Having made points of criticism about English arbitration the writer says: It believe that most American lawyers would concur in my view that in every other respect, an English arbitration forum is considered most attractive and desirable. The quality of the legal profession generally and of arbitrators more particularly in England is well-known and well-founded. The sophistication and fairness of English law, where no other law is designated by contract, is widely recognised. The support services required for a major commercial arbitration are readily available in London. As an English speaking nation, the United Kingdom provides a neutral forum for disputes between many other English speaking nations of the world. And finally, London is geographically and logistically a convenient middle ground for parties on most continents ". Using the terminology of American colleagues, the best summation that I can give on the Bill is from another American lawyer, Mr. Robert L. Clare, a senior partner of Schearman and Sterling in New York. This is what he says: I still think the Arbitration Bill is a forward step and should enable those of us engaged in international practice to have the luxury of conducting our arbitrations in England, with English barristers, and in a language and a culture which we understand and admire". Despite whatever imperfections this Bill may have, it presents the opportunity for courts and arbitrations to make our Arbitration law work better and to make a further contribution to the development of our commercial law.

I shall therefore leave the House with two thoughts: first, the hope that our friends in the other place will recognise that compromise there must be and that the Bill is in the interests of the United Kingdom to the disadvantage of no sector of our community. It is not a Bill for the big to the disadvantage of the small. Secondly—and this is my final point to your Lordships—I express the hope that this Bill may provide the foundation for an international arbitration centre based in the United Kingdom, in London, in whatever form that association may take, with a well-equipped building, arbitration halls, conference rooms and a library; an efficient secretariat and a service for reporting arbitrators' decisions. It is not only in the reforming of our law wherein lies our future in international arbitration work. In the meantime, I have no doubt that everybody, our widely qualified arbitrators, our judges—both sitting on the bench of the commercial court and as judge arbitrators—our lawyers and their clients will try very hard to make it all work.

On Question, Bill passed and sent to the Commons.