The new Rules on the Efficient Conduct of Proceedings in International Arbitration (Prague Rules) launched last month in the Czech Republic and aim to provide a more efficient framework for arbitral procedure which can be used to streamline a dispute, reducing delay and costs. Their approach is closer to civil law than common law traditions, with the tribunal pro-actively managing the dispute from the start.
Category: Document production
In a decision dated 24 August 2018, the English Commercial Court (the “Court“) dismissed Dreymoor Fertilisers Overseas PTE Ltd’s (“Dreymoor“) application to continue an injunction preventing the enforcement of an order of a U.S. court granting discovery under section 1782 of the United States Code (the “Order“). The Order required one of Dreymoor’s employees to be deposed and produce evidence for use in various international proceedings by Eurochem Trading GMBH (“ECTG“) against Dreymoor. Dreymoor argued that enforcing the Order would constitute unconscionable conduct as it would interfere with its preparation for arbitration proceedings against ECTG.
The Court accepted that the enforcement of orders such as the Order could potentially be unfair, as they would effectively provide an opportunity to cross-examine the same witness twice. However, whether to injunct the enforcement of such an order required a careful case-by-case analysis. Based on various case-specific factors, the Court decided that it would not be unconscionable to allow ECTG to enforce the Order and dismissed Dreymoor’s application to continue the injunction.
Beny Steinmetz Group Resources ("BSGR"), a company based in Guernsey and accused of bribery in Guinea, has been denied permission by a Magistrate Judge of the Southern District Court of New York ("SDNY") to use certain confidential documents. These documents were produced in a lawsuit before the SDNY filed by Rio Tinto, and were sought to be used by BSGR in a separate but related LCIA arbitration.
In this short podcast, Professional Support Consultants Hannah Ambrose and Vanessa Naish provide 8 top tips for in house counsel in managing an arbitration.
For further information or to suggest topics for future podcasts, please contact Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Consultant, Vanessa Naish, Professional Support Consultant, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact. To request a copy of the Step by Step Guide to Arbitration under the LCIA Rules 2014 referred to in the podcast, contact Arbitration.Info@hsf.com.
In its recent judgment AMEC Foster Wheeler Group Limited v Morgan Sindall Professional Services Limited & Ors  EWHC 2012 (TCC) (available here), the English High Court (the Court) ordered that arbitration documents be disclosed by a party conducting arbitration to a party with a financial interest and practical involvement in the dispute.
The arbitration arose in relation to construction works at a naval base. The Secretary of State for Defence (SSD) had engaged a contractor (TES) to carry out works. Part of those works was subcontracted by TES to the claimant (AMEC). AMEC then sold its business to the defendants, who were assigned AMEC’s rights and agreed to carry out AMEC’s obligations under the relevant subcontract.
Disputes under the main contract and the subcontract arose, and arbitral proceedings between SSD and TES commenced. Under a name borrowing agreement between TES and AMEC (i.e. an agreement under which a party agrees to pursue or defend a legal claim in the name of another), AMEC, agreed to conduct the arbitration between TES and SSD on behalf of TES. AMEC and the defendants then agreed that the defendants would conduct the arbitration as AMEC’s agents.
The defendants conducted the arbitration without any involvement from AMEC. When AMEC sought copies of the arbitration documents, the defendants refused to provide them. The claimant brought proceedings before the Court for orders that the documents be disclosed.
The Court ordered that the documents be disclosed on the basis that they were held by the defendants as agent for AMEC. In reaching this decision, the Court rejected the defendants’ argument that disclosure should be refused on the basis that the arbitration documents were confidential.
The Court’s decision focussed largely on the relationship between the parties and little attention was given to the issue of confidentiality in arbitration proceedings. This in itself makes the decision noteworthy: the Court made clear that the legal obligation to provide the documents to AMEC (by virtue of the relationship between principal and agent) effectively ‘trumped’ any question of a duty of confidentiality owed to a third party (in this case, the SSD), in arbitration proceedings. Whilst the circumstances of this case were unusual, the decision may have broader application where there is an arbitration between an agent (whether disclosed or undisclosed) and a third party.
Practitioners and arbitral institutions alike are constantly looking for ways to smooth and improve the arbitral process. One of the latest contribution to this effort is a June 2014 guide from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) entitled “Effective Management of Arbitration: A Guide for In-House Counsel and Other Party Representatives” (the Guide).
The International Centre for Dispute Resolution (the ICDR), the international division of the American Arbitration Association has released a new version of its Mediation Rules and its Arbitration Rules (the Rules), effective 1 May 2014.
Many of the changes concern issues which have been the focus of many of the recent institutional rule changes – reducing the time and costs involved in resolving a dispute pursuant to the Rules, dealing with multi-party and multi-contract issues, and providing for emergency measures of protection before constitution of the tribunal. However, the revised Rules also contain some novel aspects. In particular:
- The adoption of the “international” approach to document production in arbitration into the Rules themselves and confirmation that depositions, interrogatories and other US “discovery” procedures are “generally not appropriate” in an ICDR arbitration (Article 21);
- Provision for joinder and the appointment of a “consolidation arbitrator” to determine whether multiple arbitrations should be consolidated;
- An express description of the ICDR list procedure at Article 12(6) for the appointment of arbitrators (barring party agreement to an alternative method); and
- Express inclusion of a default position on the question of privilege in international arbitration, adopting a highest standard of protection test (Article 22).
In the recent case of In re Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones S.A., v. JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc., Case No. 11-12897, 2012 WL 2369166 (11th Cir. June 25, 2012), the Eleventh Circuit held that private commercial arbitral tribunals fall within the scope of 28 U.S.C. §1782 and ordered §1782 discovery in relation to a domestic private commercial arbitration in Ecuador.
§1782 provides that US district courts may order parties to produce documents or give testimony for use in a “proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal”. §1782 essentially arms parties engaging in foreign or international proceedings with a valuable tactical and evidentiary tool to be used against parties that are themselves or have entities which have a presence in the US. However, the extent to which this tool may be used in the context of private commercial arbitration proceedings has been unclear, until now.