London's position as the premier international legal centre cannot be guaranteed, David Hunt, MP warned lawyers last week.

Speaking at a special event organised by the Law Society for international lawyers based in London, Hunt said that London “must face up to the realities of competition from other centres throughout the world”.

The Government wants to see London remain a “vibrant and successful centre for the arbitration of commercial disputes,” he said. Hunt added this was the reason why the Department of Trade and Industry, together with an advisory committee, was taking a close look at English arbitration law.

“They have come to the conclusion that the legislation needs to be reformulated and updated. The present law is fragmented and difficult for the non-expert to understand,' he said.

Only half as many lawyers, 110, attended this year compared with the previous year, which was oversubscribed.

“Last year's high attendance may have been because of the novelty factor,” Law Society international officer Emma Donaldson says.

Commenting on the proposed directive on rights of establishment, he said it was “not entirely to our liking, although it is early days in the negotiations”.