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Impacts of cultural differences on international arbitration based on the example of Iran.

Howard, Mary


Mary Howard


Robert Halsall


This research aims to ascertain whether and to what extent cultural issues impact the accessibility and effectiveness of international arbitration, and to provide recommendations which will contribute to the improvement of international arbitration. It examines the origin of arbitration as a means of resolving disputes, the development of current international arbitration law and the UNCITRAL Model Arbitration Law. It compares the arbitration law and procedures of the US, England and Wales (E&W), and Iran. It then focuses on the effect of social and legal culture on international arbitration. The aim of this research is achieved through a multi-methods study. An extensive review of the relevant literature in both Farsi and English was conducted. A case study from the Iran and the US international arbitration tribunal of the 1980s. A comparative study of the law and procedures was carried out to ascertain the similarities and differences of each jurisdiction. Finally, a series of semi-structured questionnaires was conducted, as well as interviews with experts in both languages in order to identify the practical effect of social and cultural differences. The recent increase in international arbitration indicates the necessity of a reliable, friendly forum and enforceable dispute resolution system as an alternative to destructive and devastating fights and wars. The research fills a gap in the literature on international arbitration. There is very little research on the impact of social and legal culture. The research identifies common underlying principles and an attempt to harmonise the modern law of arbitration in each jurisdiction. This work further contributes to existing knowledge by discovering several examples of underlying legal and cultural issues experienced by arbitrators and arbitration trainers. This research explains the importance of understanding underlying cultural issues in international arbitration and the role of arbitrators, arbitration tribunals and arbitration trainers in ensuring cultural issues do not adversely impact on arbitration outcomes. It concludes that understanding of cultural issues is an important element in the effective practice of international arbitration, just as legal and technical skills are, and as such the study of issues of cultural difference is necessary in general and in international arbitration in particular. It makes recommendations for arbitrators, arbitration tribunals and arbitration trainers. The methods used for this research may be applied to other international arbitration jurisdictions.


HOWARD, M. 2018. Impacts of cultural differences on international arbitration based on the example of Iran. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 9, 2019
Keywords International arbitration; Alternative dispute resolution; Commercial law; Iran; United States; Great Britain
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 2018


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