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Harvard International Law Club




Present day interaction between court and arbitrator is reminiscent of the seventeenth century struggle between court and crown, in which King James I claimed that his representatives should have the right to adjudicate disputes according to "natural reason," not according to the "artificial ... judgment of the law." The Lord Chief Justice, Edward Coke, resisted this arrogation of power using words attributed to Bracton: "quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege." Although under no man, the King was subject to God and the law. The extent to which the modern commercial arbitrator should likewise be under the law, i.e., subject to judicial review, has recently been the subject of lively debate in England. The debate culminated in 1979 with the enactment of legislation permitting greater arbitral autonomy in the resolution of international commercial disputes. Under the Arbitration Act of 1979, parties to international contracts, other than those concerning maritime, insurance, or commodities matters, may foreclose judicial review by an "exclusion agreement" in the commercial contract.



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