In recent years, the arbitral process and applicable rules have, according to some commentators, become greatly homogenised. In light of this, the concept of the arbitral seat, fixing it to one location so as to take advantage of a given country's legal system, has seemingly diminished in importance. Indeed, the rise in ostensible "delocalised awards" has produced outcomes for parties that are not seen as solely dependent on the legal order of the country in which they were issued. The New York Convention’s reformulation of the 1927 Geneva Convention has enabled awards to be enforced in all signatory countries. In many cases, parties no longer need to be concerned with a prior declaration of enforceability when seeking enforcement outside of the award-origin country.
So, do parties still care?
This mutuality of recognition belies the fact that many parties to arbitration agreements place the choice of seat at the forefront of their considerations. In a survey entitled "Choices in International Arbitration", White & Case identified the legal infrastructure of the seat as parties' most important factor (62 per cent) when deciding where to base an arbitration. Within this choice, parties identified: the national arbitration law, the track record of enforcing agreements to arbitrate/arbitral awards in that jurisdiction, and its neutrality and impartiality as to why they would specifically focus on where a seat of arbitration is located.