The LCIA recently announced an update to its Arbitration Rules, with effect from 1 October 2020.
The changes are designed to modernise and bring clarity to aspects of the rules rather than wholesale reform. The key provisions are summarised below:
Powers to expedite proceedings
- A power to award an "Early Determination" on claims or defences which are plainly inadmissible, meritless or outside the tribunal's jurisdiction. (Article 22.1 (viii))
- Powers to limit or dispense with statements of case or evidence, abridge time and to employ technology, including various modifications to reflect the increased use of virtual hearings. (Articles 9.7; 14.3; 14.5; 16:3; 19:2)
- A mandatory time period of 3 months for the tribunal to deliver an award.
Extended powers to consolidate arbitrations (new Art. 22A)
- Expanded provisions to consolidate disputes which arise from the same transaction or series of related transactions.
- The additional ability to run concurrent arbitrations where the same Tribunal is appointed.
Other notable changes
- A requirement to seek a confidentiality undertaking from those involved in the arbitration, including witnesses, experts, authorised representatives and service providers (Article 30).
- Clearer delineation of the roles of the Tribunal Secretary and the Tribunal (Article 14.8).
- Electronic communications have been made mandatory, and hardcopy communications will require the prior written approval of the Registrar (Articles 4.1 and 4.2).
- Awards are to be electronically signed.
These changes continue the theme of the 2014 Rules in moving towards greater efficiency and certainty in arbitral proceedings under the LCIA Rules, in line with changes in recent years to the rules of other international arbitral institutions and best practices in international arbitration. It remains to be seen whether Tribunals will be emboldened to employ with more frequency their powers to control proceedings.
The new Early Determination provisions mirror similar procedures introduced in recent years by other institutions (SIAC and HKIAC) and provide parties some potential relief against vexatious or dilatory arbitration claims and defences, as well as arbitrations commenced on a tenuous jurisdictional basis.
Finally, the advancements relating to electronic working and remote hearings are timely in light of recent experience during the global Covid-19 pandemic and they reflect modern working practices. With regard to the electronic service of documents and signing of awards, thought should be given to any formalities required in jurisdictions where the Award is to be enforced.
For further information about this topic, or our firm's international arbitration services, please contact Leigh Crestohl or Rohit Ralleigh.
The new Rules can be viewed here.