The Applicable Law to Arbitration Proceedings: Party Autonomy and Lex Loci Arbitri (Extent and Limitations)

Dr. Wafa Yaqoob Janahi
Assistant Professor in Civil Law
College of Law, University of Bahrain
Muneera Khalifa Al Khalifa
Research and Teaching Assistant
College of Law, University of Bahrain


The extent to which the principle of party autonomy operates with regard to constructing the arbitration proceedings depends primarily on the place where the arbitration will take place, the so called the “arbitration seat” or “loci arbitri”.
It is argued that the parties’ freedom to designate the rules or select the law governing the procedural aspects of arbitration is not completely free from any limitations; the chosen rules or law cannot entirely circumvent the rules of the lex arbitri of the arbitral seat (hereinafter, the lex loci arbitri), in particular the mandatory rules to which the parties cannot derogate from. However, it is also argued that international arbitration proceedings should not be subject to the laws of the seat of the arbitration or any national laws (or courts) other than that where the enforcement is sought, for several reasons.
The main objective of this article is to analyse the aforementioned arguments and examine the applicable law to the procedural aspects of arbitration and the extent to which the party autonomy applies in this area taking into consideration the importance of Lex Loci Arbitri in relation to Virtual Arbitral Proceedings given its necessity, popularity, and rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: arbitration proceedings, party autonomy, arbitration seat, lex loci arbitri, mandatory rules, delocalization.

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