Observations on Arbitration: video for in-house counsel on the Myths and Realities of Arbitration

In this short video in our Observations on Arbitration series, Professional Support Consultants Vanessa Naish and Hannah Ambrose talk about the myths and realities surrounding the arbitration process.  The discussion draws out key points and common misconceptions about arbitration, touching on costs and duration, confidentiality, party autonomy, availability of interim relief, summary judgment and enforcement of arbitral awards.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Naish, Professional Support Consultant, Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Consultant or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Professional Support Consultant
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+44 207 466 7585
Vanessa Naish
Vanessa Naish
Professional Support Consultant
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+44 207 466 2112

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Filed under Costs, Enforcement, Interim relief, Publications and Guides, Video

2016 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics: Record Year for the ICC

The ICC has recently published its full statistical report: the 2016 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics. This Report demonstrates yet another impressive year of growth for the ICC. In particular, the ICC announced that 966 new cases were filed in 2016. This represents both a record number of cases filed in a single year and an unprecedented growth of 20% from the previous year. Overall, the large caseload numbers, the geographical spread of parties involved and the size of amounts in dispute point towards the ICC maintaining its position amongst the world’s leading arbitration institutions.

We discuss below the key statistics from the Report.

Caseload

While the ICC had previously seen a steady 1%-3% increase in its caseload from 2012 to 2015, it saw a record 20% increase in its caseload in 2016. The chief reason for this growth was attributed by the ICC to continuing expansion in all continents, but with particular emphasis on a surge in cases from North and Central America and from Africa. Interestingly, there was an increase in the number of multi-party cases, with nearly half of new cases involving three or more parties (43%).

Party nationality and places of arbitration

Nearly 80% of the cases filed at the ICC last year were between parties from different countries. These disputes involved 3,099 parties from as many as 137 different jurisdictions. Filings involving parties from the Americas more than doubled, whilst there was a 50% growth in parties from Africa, and a 22% growth in parties from South and East Asia. The number of parties from Central and West Asia returned to pre-2015 levels (2015 statistics having been influenced by a case involving multiple Israeli parties), whilst the number of parties from Europe remained broadly in line with previous years.

Whilst the three most frequent nationalities of parties filing cases in 2016 were the USA, US Virgin Islands and Belize, this development was attributed to an inflow of multiparty cases involving parties from those jurisdictions. Furthermore, given the Virgin Islands and Belize are popular jurisdictions for incorporation of special purpose vehicles, it is possible that those nationalities may not be truly reflective of the nationality of the disputing parties.

The international reach of the ICC was also reflected in the choice of arbitral seats, with ICC arbitrations seated in 106 cities across the world. Interestingly, the number of African cities chosen by the parties as the place for arbitration rose from 2 to 6 (one arbitration in each of Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, and two arbitrations seated in Algeria), although the total number of African-seated cases remains strikingly low (less than 0.01% of the overall new cases filed).

Sector and size of disputes

In 2016, the ICC saw cases arising from the finance and insurance sector grow to match the number of cases relating to the construction and engineering sector, which sector has historically led to the highest percentage of ICC cases.

Equally noteworthy were the amounts in dispute. The ICC reports that, at US$112,259,575, the ICC’s average amount in dispute is higher than the average sums in dispute reported by other institutions. However, it also noted that a significant proportion of the ICC’s caseload involved disputed sums below US$5 million (39%). This is what has led to the ICC introducing an expedited procedure (see our blog post here).

Emergency arbitration

In 2016, 25 applications were made to the ICC for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator.  Six of the applications were granted in full or in part, with the remainder dismissed or withdrawn. The average time to complete the emergency proceedings was 18 days. Whilst in many court systems, a party who could establish requirements of urgency could get interim relief within a shorter period, this timescale is nonetheless impressive and demonstrates the utility of the EA procedure in circumstances in which the parties may not wish to involve the courts. It also underlines the point that the emergency arbitration procedure, a novelty only a few years ago, has now become an established part of the international arbitration landscape.

Investor-state disputes

There were 7 new ICC cases filed in 2016 based on bilateral investment treaties; six related to investments made by Turkish parties in countries in Africa and Central Asia, and the seventh related to a claim by a Spanish investor against a Central American state. The ICC also provided administrative services in an UNCITRAL arbitration brought by Spanish investors against a Latin American state, and has indicated that it will publish a revised framework for its role as appointing authority in ad hoc cases or those under the UNCITRAL Rules.

Arbitrators

  • Nationality

The arbitrators appointed and confirmed to ICC tribunals in 2016 were drawn from 76 different nationalities. There was no change in the six most frequent nationalities appointed or confirmed, with arbitrators from the UK, USA, Switzerland, France, Germany and Brazil being, in that order, the nationalities with the highest percentage of appointments and confirmations.  In terms of region, arbitrators from Europe remain those most frequently appointed, representing 57% of all appointments and confirmations in 2016

  • Gender diversity

A further noticeable development in 2016 was the increase in female arbitrators appointed, from 136 in 2015 to 209 in 2016, representing 15% of all confirmations and appointments last year. In 2016, 41% of appointments of female arbitrators were made by the parties (representing a 62% increase in party appointment of female arbitrators from 2015); 46% were made by the ICC Court; 12% were appointed as president of the tribunal by co-arbitrators; and 1% by another appointing authority. The Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge, to which the ICC is a signatory, was launched in May 2016. It may therefore be expected to have a more significant impact on the gender diversity statistics in ICC arbitration and other institutional arbitration for 2017, and it is to be hoped that this welcome trend continues.

Awards

The Report also provides information about the awards approved by the ICC Court within 2016. The ICC notes a rise in the number of partial awards, suggesting that this “may reflect an increasing trend to bifurcate proceedings”. The statistics highlight the ICC Court’s role in scrutinising awards, with only 3 out of 479 awards in 2016 approved without any comment at all.  However, there is no data available as to the extent of the scrutiny involved, and in our experience many of the comments submitted to the tribunals in question will relate to format or formality.

The Report does not, however, contain information on the duration of ICC proceedings in total nor the amount of time it has taken ICC tribunals to render an award following the close of proceedings. Moreover, it will be interesting to see whether future Statistical Reports address the practical application of the ICC’s policies of applying discretionary reduction in the tribunal’s fees for a delay in producing awards and reducing the ICC’s own administrative fees for undue delay during the scrutiny process. These policies were introduced in introduced in January and July 2016 respectively (see our blog posts here and here).

Overall, a very strong year indeed for the ICC and one which draws out some interesting trends, particularly in terms of the varying sources of arbitral referrals to the institution.

For more information, please contact Craig Tevendale, Partner, Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Consultant, Vanessa Naish, Professional Support Consultant, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Craig Tevendale
Craig Tevendale
Partner
Email | Profile
+44 207 466 2445
Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Professional Support Consultant
Email | Profile
+44 207 466 7585
Vanessa Naish
Vanessa Naish
Professional Support Consultant
Email | Profile
+44 207 466 2112

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Filed under Institutions, News

Belgium asks for the CJEU’s opinion on the compatibility of the Investment Court System with European Law

On 6 September 2017 the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders submitted a request from Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union for an opinion on the compatibility of the Investment Court System (ICS) with the European Treaties.  The Belgian government has made the request in recognition of the concerns raised by the regional assembly of Wallonia about the ICS when it was considering whether or not to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.

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Filed under EU, EU Law, Europe, ISDS, News, Public International Law

International Arbitration Internship: Applications now open

Herbert Smith Freehills is now accepting applications for two internship opportunities in our international arbitration team in London. The programme offers aspiring arbitration lawyers a chance to work closely with one of the world’s leading specialist arbitration groups.

The two paid internships are for three months each (with no extension), starting in December 2017 or March 2018.

For more details of the role, please click here.

To apply, please visit our careers Page.

Applications must be submitted on or before Friday 22nd September.

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Sovereign immunity in the DIFC Court

Last week, the Dubai International Financial Centre Court issued its decision in Pearl Petroleum Company Limited & Others v The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. The Court upheld its earlier decision which recognised two LCIA arbitration awards totalling US$2 billion issued against the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (the “KRG”) and dismissed KRG’s arguments (1) that the enforcement proceedings should be set aside on the ground that the Court did not have jurisdiction to make such orders against it, and (2) that the DIFC Court should not decide issues of immunity and its waiver. Continue reading

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Filed under Awards, Challenges to awards, DIFC, Enforcement, Jurisdiction, Middle East, Sovereign Immunity

A tale of two BANIs – Uncertainties abound as latest court ruling questions legitimacy of Indonesia’s national arbitration centre

Overview

Since its establishment in 1977, BANI (Badan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia) has been the most active arbitral institution in Indonesia. With offices across the country, its own rules and procedures and over 100 Indonesian and foreign arbitrators on its list, BANI is well-established and has presided over a steady stream of domestic and international disputes. (Other arbitral institutions exist, but with more limited remits such as Islamic or capital markets transactions.)

For all its success, however (and there can be no doubt that BANI has been a positive influence in the development of Indonesian arbitration), BANI has found itself subject to criticism at various points in its history – most recently that it has been unable to keep up with developments and trends in international arbitration, due to the inflexible nature of its constitution.

September 2016 saw the unexpected establishment of BANI Pembaharuan, a new institution set up to deal with domestic and international general commercial arbitrations. Domestic commentary suggests that BANI Pembaharuan was set up with the stated intention of “institutionalising BANI, not creating a new BANI” (although there is a competing narrative that the BANI Pembaharuan was primarily created because of a disagreement between the BANI’s board members and one of the members of the Indonesian arbitration community).

BANI quickly issued a statement to the effect that it does not recognise BANI Pembaharuan and that its use of the “BANI” acronym is illegitimate. This was followed by multiple proceedings in the Indonesian courts concerning the new institution’s use of the “BANI” name.  Regrettably, this has led to uncertainty as to which institution is rightfully entitled to administer arbitrations where parties have elected to refer to their disputes to “BANI”. Unfortunately, this uncertainty is set to continue for some time, as recent rulings from different courts have been contradictory and are likely to be appealed, prolonging the confusion.

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Filed under ADR, Arbitration laws, Asia

Herbert Smith Freehills launches blog series on NAFTA renegotiations

Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the launch of a new series of blog posts which will report on the latest developments in the NAFTA renegotiations. The series will run on our Public International Law Blog which provides analysis and commentary on public international law issues.

The series’ opening post provides practical insights to stakeholders in key industries and focusses on the context of the negotiations and the interests and objectives laid out by the states in advance of the talks. It also offers our strategic view of what interested observers should watch for.

Part 2 looks into the (unofficial) US proposal to restructure NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, transforming it into an “opt-in” regime under which each NAFTA state would elect whether or not to permit investors of other NAFTA parties to bring claims directly against it.

Don’t miss out on further updates, analysis and comment on the upcoming negotiation rounds.  Subscribe to our Public International Law blog by clicking here, and enter your email in the “subscribe” box.

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Filed under ISDS, News, Public International Law, The Americas, Trade Agreements

Astro/First Media: Leave to appeal granted in Hong Kong enforcement proceedings

In the long-running Astro v First Media dispute, the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong (CFA) has granted First Media leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision refusing an extension of time to apply to set aside orders for the enforcement of awards against it. Astro Nusantara International BV and others v PT First Media TBK [2017] HKCFA 50 (Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong)

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Filed under Asia, Awards, Challenges to awards, Enforcement, Hong Kong & China

Enforcement and dispute resolution under the Withdrawal Agreement and any future relationship agreement: no role for the CJEU….or is there?

On its face, the thrust of the UK Government’s Future Partnership Paper on Enforcement and Dispute Resolution (the Paper), published on 23 August, is to rule out the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to determine the enforcement of rights and obligations by individuals and businesses derived under the Withdrawal Agreement (and any future relationship agreement) and disputes between the EU and the UK.  Since the Paper was published, the Prime Minister has again reiterated the Government’s position that “the UK will be able to make its own laws – Parliament will make our laws – it is British judges that will interpret those laws, and it will be the British Supreme Court that will be the ultimate arbiter of those laws.”

However, as discussed below, whilst perhaps consistent with the stage of negotiations, the Paper is drafted to leave considerable room for manoeuvre, and it leaves many questions unanswered regarding enforcement of rights and obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement and any future relationship agreements and dispute resolution between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

The Paper follows the publication on 22 August of the UK Government’s Future Partnership Paper on Providing a Cross-border Civil Judicial Cooperation Framework, considered in our blog post here, which presented the UK’s position on the extent to which current EU rules on choice of law, jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments should continue to apply as between the UK and the EU Member States post-Brexit.   Continue reading

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Filed under Brexit, Enforcement, Enforcement - Europe, EU, EU Law, Europe, ISDS, News, Trade Agreements

Australian Court sets aside an international arbitration award and removes an arbitrator

The respondents in an international commercial arbitration were successful in the Federal Court in Australia in setting aside parts of two partial awards and removing the sole arbitrator pursuant to Articles 12, 18 and 34 of the UNCITRAL Model Law. These articles are incorporated into Australian law by the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth).

The Court found that the arbitrator had conducted himself in such a manner that the applicants could no longer have confidence in him. This was mainly because the arbitrator had decided various substantive questions in a final manner without giving some of the parties an opportunity to be heard on those questions.

The Court observed that procedural difficulties were encountered due to the hiving off and determination of incomplete separate questions where issues between the parties had not been properly crystallised.

Hui v Esposito Holdings Pty Ltd [2017] FCA 648 and Hui v Esposito Holdings Pty Ltd (No 2) [2017] FCA 728 demonstrate the circumstances in which the Court may review the actions of an arbitrator and may be prepared to terminate an arbitrator’s mandate and set aside awards.

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Filed under ADR, Arbitration laws, Australia, Awards, Challenges to awards