Arbitration clauses frequently require arbitration to be commenced within a stated period, often running from the date of the dispute. In most cases the effect of such a clause will be to lay down a period shorter than the statutory period of six years from the date of breach as set out in the Limitation Act 1980.
Where a series of cargo owners have claims against a carrier under the various bills of lading issued to them, their representative may give a single notice of arbitration to the carrier. Doubtless the intention of such a notice is to trigger as many arbitrations as there are claimants. In Easybiz Investments v Sinograin Chinatex  EWHC 2565 (Comm) the carrier took the point that such a notice, if capable of being construed as requiring a consolidated arbitration, is void.
Contractual and statutory limitation periods apply to arbitrations in exactly the same way as they apply to litigation. In Bulk & Metal Transport (UK) LLP v Voc Bulk Ultra Handymax Pool LLC  EWHC 288 (Comm) the questions were whether a communication which gave the respondent a short period to pay failing which arbitration would be commenced constituted an immediate notice of arbitration, and whether the respondent was entitled to rely upon that notice as satisfying the time limit for a counterclaim.
It is very common to find in insurance policies issued by the London market to US policyholders a service of suit clause under which the insurers agree to submit to the jurisdiction of any court of competent jurisdiction in the US. In Ace Capital Ltd v CMS Energy Corporation  EWHC 1843 (Comm) that form of wording was accompanied by an arbitration clause specifying arbitration in London. How are the two provisions to be reconciled? Mr Justice Christopher Clarke chose to give primacy to the latter.
The Arbitration Act 1996 provides that, in the absence of contrary agreement, an arbitration is to be commenced by the appointment of an arbitrator or a request to the other party to agree an arbitrator, as the case may be. The main issue in Bernuth Lines Ltd v High Seas Shipping Ltd, The Eastern Navigator  EWHC 3020 (Comm), a decision of Christopher Clarke J, was whether service of the arbitration notice could legitimately be effected by email and, if so, to which email address? The judgment contains valuable analysis of the relationship between ss67–69 and s72 of the 1996 Act.