(May 21, 2010) With the intention of modernizing its existing law and capitalizing on its great popularity with both business and recreational visitors, Ireland has enacted a new Arbitration Act that will go into force on June 8, 2010. (No.1/2010 (Ir.), http://www
.irishstatutebook.ie/2010/en/act/pub/0001/index.html (last visited May 18, 2010).) The new law incorporates both the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law [UNCITRAL], Status, http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/uncitral_texts/arbitration/NYConvent
ion_status.html (last visited May 12, 2010)) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (UNCITRAL Status, http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/uncitral_texts/arbitration/1985Model
_arbitration_status.html (last visited May 12, 2010)).
Ireland's new Arbitration Act makes a number of significant changes to the existing laws governing the field. The two most notable of these are that both domestic and international arbitrations are now subject to the same statute and that it abolishes the “case stated” procedure which until now had given parties the ability to refer questions to the courts in violation of the Model Law. The new law also severely restricts the grounds for challenging an arbitrator's decisions, allows arbitrators to cite international jurisprudence on the Model Law rather than confining them to Irish cases, and requires them to give written reasons. A leading Irish law firm has stated that this will impose additional “rigor” on arbitrators. (Arbitration Act Signed into Law by President, Mar. 9 2010, A&L Goodbody website, available at http://www.algoodbody.ie/en_nl/lega
l-news-2010.aspx?article=91b2d5f5-cb79-4877-ba9b-7c3e37371c15.) Other notable features of the new law are that it allows for pre-dispute agreements as to costs and introduces the practice of having a single judge to oversee arbitrations in those limited circumstances in which judicial supervision or invention is allowed. (Id.)
Ireland's new Arbitration Act does contain two significant exceptions. The law does not apply to the arbitration of disputes over terms and conditions of employment or remuneration, and it does not provide for the enforceability of pre-dispute arbitration clauses in consumer claims for less than €5,000 (about US$6,164). (Arbitration Act, ss. 30-31.) The law does, however, allow consumers to agree to submit their claim to arbitration after their disputes have arisen.
Both the Irish government and the Irish legal community hope that the new Arbitration Act will make Ireland a highly attractive venue for the resolution of international disputes and that it will speed up domestic arbitration by severely limiting the grounds for judicial intervention. (See, for example, New Arbitration Bill Good for Arbitration Business in Ireland, June 17, 2008, A&L Goodbody website, available at http://www.algoodbody.ie/en_nl/legal-news.aspx?page=7&article=2b3172