No. XIII.3.3 - Seat of arbitration

(a) The parties are free to agree on the seat of arbitration. Failing such agreement, the seat of arbitration shall be determined by the arbitral tribunal having regard to the circumstances of the case, including the convenience of the parties.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph a) of this Principle, the arbitral tribunal may, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, meet at any place it considers appropriate for consultation among its members, for hearing witnesses, experts or the parties, or for inspection of goods, other property or documents.

(c) The provisions of an arbitration law apply only if the seat of arbitration is in the territory of the state which has enacted that law, unless otherwise provided by that law (lex loci arbitri).

1 The most important effect of the seat of the arbitration is that it determines the applicability of the arbitration law. The arbitration law of a certain jurisdiction, the lex loci arbitri, applies to an arbitration as soon as the seat of that arbitration has been fixed in that jurisdiction. Fixing the seat in a certain country, therefore, establishes a legal relationship between the arbitration on the one hand, and the arbitration law and the courts of that country on the other ("territorial theory").

2 It follows from its limited function that the seat of an arbitration must not be understood in a naturalistic, empirical fashion. Rather, it is a term of art and provides the ‘formal legal domicile’ (formales Legaldomizil) or ‘juridical home’ of the arbitration. One may also speak of the ‘juridical seat’ of the arbitration as opposed to the place where the hearings are actually conducted and evidence is taken.

3 This function of the seat means that there is no de-localized arbitration. Every arbitration is subject to a legal and regulatory regime. This regime is the law at the seat of the arbitration, the lex loci arbitri. The parties cannot escape this consequence. The ‘juridical seat’ of an arbitration functions as a connecting factor in conflict of laws. In arbitral practice, the connection of the arbitration to the arbitration law of its seat is rarely felt because most provisions of modern arbitration laws are non-mandatory and may thus be modified by agreement of the parties, e.g. by reference to a set of institutional arbitration rules.

4 The seat of the arbitration must not be confused with the physical location of the hearing(s). Subsection (b) makes it clear that the hearing(s) must not be conducted at the legal seat of the arbitration. It is not even necessary that the award is signed at the seat of the arbitration. Pursuant to Principle XIII.4.2 (c) the award is deemed to have been made at the place which is indicated in the award as the seat of the arbitration even if, in reality, the award was physically signed at another place or even in another country or on another continent.

Please cite as: "Commentary to Trans-Lex Principle ,"
Arbitral Awards
ICC Award No. 13774, YCA 2014, at page 141 et seq.
Arbitration Rules
Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) Arbitration Rules
DIS Arbitration Rules 1998, downloadable at
Swiss Rules of International Arbitration 2006
UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 1976
UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 2010 (revised)
International Legislation
UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration
UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings 1996
Model Laws
UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration with Amendments, 2006
National Legislation
Austrian Arbiration Law 2006
English Arbitration Act 1996
Zivilprozessordnung - German Code of Civil Procedure
Contract Clauses
1. Contractual Clause Providing for Seat of Arbitration
Sales & Purchase Contract

(...) The seat of arbitration shall be London, United Kingdom. The procedural law of this place shall apply where the Rules are silent. The hearings of the arbitral tribunal shall be held in New York, New York, United States (...)
Appeal to Arbitration Tribunal
The place of arbitration shall be Paris, France - (International Contracting: Law and Practice - Larry A. DiMatteo - §2.05 A - S. 26).
(...) The seat of the arbitration shall be Singapore. Notwithstanding that the seat of the arbitration is Singapore, the arbitrators and parties to the arbitration may participate in hearings at a location other than Singapore that is deemed by the arbitrators to be most convenient and efficient for the Parties (...)
(...) The seat of the arbitration shall be Singapore (...)
Services Contract

The seat of arbitration shall be Munich, Federal Republic of Germany. The procedural law of this place shall apply where the Rules are silent (...)
Construction & O&M Contract
Dispute Resolution
(...) the Power Purchase Agreement provides for settlement of disputes through arbitration in accordance with the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce before a three-member tribunal in Paris, France (...)
Arbitration Agreement
Arbitration Procedures
(...) The arbitration shall take place in Santa Clara County, California, unless the parties mutually agree to conduct the arbitration in a different location (...)
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