The ICDR amends its Mediation and Arbitration Rules: tackling some familiar issues and providing some novel solutions

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).

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Application to remove arbitrators for bias – not on District Court’s watch

In a robust judgment, the US District Court of the Southern District of New York has rejected PK Time’s application to remove two arbitrators for alleged bias during its arbitration against Mr Robert (PK Time Group, LLC v. Robert, Docket No. 12 Civ. 8200 (PAC) (S.D.N.Y. July 23, 2013)). In a bifurcated procedure, PK Time (the claimant) succeeded at the liability stage. However, prior to completion of the quantum stage, PK Time applied first to the ICDR and then the New York courts, seeking the removal of the arbitrators for alleged bias.

The judgment clarifies the pre-emption of the Federal Arbitration Act over New York procedural law and the limited scope for court intervention before an award has been rendered.

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New Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre opens in Korea

The new Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) opened its doors in Korea last month, signalling the rising trend in international arbitration in Asia.

Attending the official launch were Herbert Smith Freehills’ disputes partners Tony Dymond, based in Seoul, and Justin D’Agostino, based in Hong Kong and Greater China, both of whom have specialist experience in international arbitration.

The Seoul IDRC offers a neutral facility, designed to host hearings for arbitrations seated around the region, as well as conferences and seminars on international arbitration. It was established by the Korean Bar Association and the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, with support and funding from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Korean Ministry of Justice.

The Seoul IDRC operates on a similar model to Singapore’s Maxwell Chambers, and is expecting to host several international arbitral institutions at its premises. These include the HKIAC – which celebrated the launch of its first overseas office in Seoul on 27 May 2013 – as well as SIAC, LCIA, ICC and AAA/ICDR.

The Centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment and is centrally located in the prestigious Seoul Global Tower Building. The aim of the facility is to position Seoul as another international arbitration “hub” in Asia, with particular focus on disputes involving Korean and Japanese parties.

The proliferation of arbitration in Korea is also important to the Seoul IDRC’s success, a topic which we covered in a previous blog. The latest signs indicate that arbitration is increasing in the region and, in fact, the Centre has already hosted its first case.

Herbert Smith Freehills was one of the first foreign law firms to receive approval from the Korean Ministry of Justice to open an office in Seoul, following the liberalisation of Korea’s legal market to foreign entrants.