Notes on London Maritime Arbitration: When does a London Maritime Arbitration start?

This is a very frequent question put by our clients the answer of which shows how effective London Maritime Arbitration can be as compared to litigating in other jurisdictions.

It is important to know when a London maritime arbitration proceeding has commenced for many reasons. The most important one can be to protect time. Contractual rights under English law do not last forever. A party to a contract must, therefore, exercise its rights before the deadline to do so expires. Once the deadline has passed, the parties’ rights are completely lost.

In shipping and maritime contracts, the usual deadline period is of one year, but otherwise, under English law, the general period is of 6 years. Each case may vary so it is important to check this very crucial point from the outset on a case by case basis.

So once we have established the deadline applicable to our case, how can we commence the arbitration proceedings? In Latin American countries, in comparison, in order to commence a legal proceeding one has to retain lawyers, prepare all relevant documents, draft the claim submissions, attaching to them all documents upon which that party intends to rely upon and then effect service. This can take several months of time and many thousands of dollars.

In England however, commencing a London maritime arbitration is simpler and more cost-effective. If the parties have not agreed otherwise and the arbitrators are to be appointed by the parties, arbitral proceedings are commenced in respect of a matter when one party serves the other party or parties notice in writing requiring him or them to appoint an arbitrator or to agree to the appointment of an arbitrator in respect of that matter.

Thus to put it in layman terms, a client will only have to appoint the arbitrator of its choice and then notify the other party. Section 14 of the Arbitration Act 1996 makes such a simple and straightforward provision. This in effect means that with very little effort both in terms of time and costs, any party can easily commence London maritime arbitration.

London maritime arbitration continues to be the preferred method of dispute resolution by the majority of industry players in the maritime business. The way the arbitration proceeding is commenced, described above, is certainly one of the many convenient factors that put London as the leading maritime arbitration capital of the world.

LMA Legal in London has many years of experience in London maritime arbitration. Check our website and publications for more information and do not hesitate to contact us in case you may need legal assistance.


Dr. Miquel Roca
Managing Partner
LMA Legal