This paper discusses the role played by conflict of laws rules in international commercial arbitration, and looks at how arbitrators use conflicts rules to solve problems of applicable law in international disputes.
It begins with a very brief overview of Anglo-common law conflict of laws rules, and a summary of the various streams of law that may be applicable in an international commercial arbitration. It then considers the role of conflicts principles at each stage of the arbitration. The focus then shifts to the genesis of the 'Doctrine of Direct Choice', which allows international arbitrators to apply the conflict of laws rules they consider to be ‘most appropriate’ to the dispute. The paper ends with an example from the author's own experience which is intended to illustrate two points: first, that conflict of laws principles are very important in international commercial arbitration; and second, that conflict of laws rules come 'in the arbitrator’s briefcase'.