London retains crown as leading global centre for maritime arbitration, handling 85% of global caseload


London handled more than 85% of the world’s maritime arbitration in 2022 according to the findings of a comprehensive new report published this week by global law firm HFW, cementing the capital’s position as the overwhelming forum of choice for international shipping arbitrations.

The report – The Maritime Arbitration Universe in Numbers – analyses the latest figures from leading maritime arbitration associations and institutions, including those not yet publicly available. London was revealed to have maintained its position as the global centre for international maritime and transportation arbitration cases in 2022, handling approximately 1,907 new cases. This represents an almost 12% increase on the 1,703 cases in 2021.

London’s closest rival Singapore handled 96 new references – the equivalent of 5% of the capital’s caseload – despite reports of the Asian state’s growing popularity as an arbitral seat. Paris, meanwhile, handled 36, approximately 2% of London’s caseload, and Dubai handled 0.4% of London’s caseload.

Maritime and transport arbitration featured prominently in London arbitration institutions’ caseloads in 2022, with the LMAA seeing the highest volume of references since 2016 and 37% of the London Court of International Arbitration’s referrals for arbitration falling within this sector, an increase from 14% increase compared with the previous year.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Michael Ritter, Partner at HFW, said: “London has long held a reputation as a trusted and neutral forum for international arbitration cases, and with a history of maritime expertise, it is clear that it remains the favoured jurisdiction for maritime arbitration.

Figures from our research show that Brexit has not threatened London’s status as the most trusted jurisdiction for the resolution of shipping arbitrations, with the capital’s crown looking set to remain unchallenged going into 2024. Furthermore, London’s nimble responses to challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic have only further solidified its position in the market.

While international competition is on the rise, with other key players such as Singapore and Hong Kong emerging from the rest of the pack, we do not expect to see any significant decline in London’s popularity in the years ahead.”

The full report can be accessed on HFW’s website.