We are coming ever closer to the centenary of the 1923 Geneva Protocol. On a recent library excursion, it became apparent that this League of Nations initiative almost passed unnoticed at the time. Yet, it forced countries to change their arbitration laws towards the near automatic enforcement of arbitration clauses at least in international cases in England. Elsewhere, it appeared to catch or reflect the zeitgeist in the way in which it coincided with reforms of French law to allow the enforcement of the clause compromissoire and the US Federal Arbitration Act. The US never ratified the protocol and always probably correctly claimed that its enforcement of arbitration agreement provisions were based more on the New York Arbitration Act. The Protocol would actually work quite well nowadays because formal validity rules have long since become more liberal than “the exchange of letters or telegrammes” or a signature found in the New York Convention and anyway, people tend to exchange letters all the time by email or similar communication methods. The only real “progress” made by the New York Convention’s replacement of the Protocol by its Article II is the provision of what should have been made clear was a maximum formal validity standard.
Bernard wrote a little piece on the Protocol in his treatise on Arbitration. However, there is surprisingly little other stuff. If you know anything, drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.