Mandatory Rules of Law in International Commercial Arbitration
One of the recurring themes in international commercial arbitration is the tension between the will of the arbitrating parties and the ability of States to regulate the conduct and status of arbitration proceedings. The general trend in international commercial arbitration is to respect, within limits, the will of the parties regarding the choice of law and the procedure for carrying out their arbitration. Thus, party autonomy is recognized as one of the cardinal elements of international commercial arbitration.
This past decade has witnessed an expansion in the scope of arbitrable matters. This trend is exemplified by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler1 in which the United States Supreme Court held that antitrust disputes arising from international contracts are arbitrable. The court reached this conclusion against the background of a long line of U.S. cases that considered antitrust law fundamental to the ideological and economic integrity of the United States. 2 Underlying the Supreme Court's decision in Mitsubishi was the presumption that the arbitrators in the case would respect the imperative provisions of the U.S. Sherman Act (which embodies U.S. antitrust principles), despite the fact that the applicable law in the case was Swiss Law.
It thus seems that the increasing acceptance of international arbitration as a legitimate alternative to litigation implies an expectation on the part of States that arbitrators will, like judges, respect the basic notions of justice and in appropriate cases apply the mandatory provisions of relevant laws. It is one thing to grant parties the power to organize their dispute resolution process in a manner compatible with their objectives; it is a different matter to suggest that parties to an international arbitration are entirely free from the demands of public policy and fundamental provisions of relevant laws. 3 The integrity of international arbitration and its endurance as a