Introduction Unilateral option clauses (also known as “asymmetric” or “one-sided” clauses) are clauses which give both parties the right to refer disputes to a particular dispute resolution forum, but which simultaneously give one party an exclusive right to elect to refer a particular dispute to another forum. The classic example of a one-sided clause is…

“May” means “Shall” in Georgia! – this was the telephone message I received on January 18, 2018 from a colleague who had just been informed in the courtroom that the ICC arbitration clause he was relying upon was upheld by the Supreme Court of Georgia. I had been following this case [Supreme Court of Georgia…

A unilateral option clause (“UOC”) can take many forms. It may grant its beneficiary the exclusive right to choose between litigation and arbitration when a dispute arises, or to choose to litigate before a specific jurisdiction, while constraining the non-beneficiary to a specific forum or a specific mode of dispute settlement. Consequently, UOCs are undoubtedly…

The decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal in Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd v. Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd ([2017] SGCA 32) added another chapter to the debate on the validity of unilateral option clauses (or ‘sole option clauses’) in contracts. The Singapore Court of Appeal reaffirmed the Singapore High Court’s decision to uphold the…

The issue of a unilateral (optional, alternative, hybrid) arbitration clause is highly controversial in commercial arbitration. The approach to these clauses varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In 2012, the Supreme Arbitration Court of Russia (a state court), in Russian Telephone Company v. Sony Ericsson, declared a unilateral arbitration clause invalid. The decision attracted attention of…

Dispute resolution provisions in banking and finance transaction documents in the UAE sometimes include a unilateral option provision which, where a dispute arises, purports to reserve to the contracting bank, investment fund or lender, the right to choose arbitration or litigation, or sometimes litigation in a different forum to the local courts. The rationale for…