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GAR - CIArb Seat Index

Welcome to the first iteration of the GAR CIArb Seat Index.

The Index provides one-page summaries of the favourableness of individual arbitral seats against a range of standard criteria. The aim is to capture, in concentrated form, the essence of a seat.

Right now the Index covers six seats. Over time it will grow, and at the right moment ratings – AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB etc - will be added, making it a unique resource.

But the essence of the Index is the highly condensed, one-page reports. 

Here we describe how they are produced.

The Index’s methodology

These GAR-CIArb Seat Index reports were developed from thousands of rows of comment submitted by Global Arbitration Review readers in late 2017.

The survey asked for comments with specific examples of the ways the various seats measured against each of the London Principles.

Participants were encouraged to refer to key features of the arbitral law and practice and notable recent developments in a locale that made it favourable or unfavourable as a seat when judged against each of the London Principles. This was not a review of the popularity of the seats.

The results were analyzed by an assessment panel and an advisory board in a rigorous process chaired by Lord Peter Goldsmith QC and Professor Doug Jones AO.

Note. The survey participants were asked to identify their home jurisdiction, but after that the responses were anonymous. Neither the assessment panel nor advisory board knew the identities of contributors to the survey.

Assessment panel

For the first six seats the assessment panel was convened by Professor Janet Walker, and included:

The results for each seat were considered by a series of panels (three assessors per panel), with each panelist providing an individual assessment of the results. The panelists were instructed to draw on the information provided in the survey results, discounting purely subjective impressions and irrelevant observations, and supplementing the survey data with their direct experience and informatino from other sources anywhere the picture was incomplete. Panelists were encouraged to refrain from assessing any principle for which there was insufficient information.

Advisory board

The reports of the assessment panel were then reviewed by the advisory board comprising senior members of the arbitration community including, Yves Derains, Hilary Heilbron QC , Michael J Moser, Peter Rees QC, John Townsend, and Carita Wallgren-Lindholm. Based on their direct experience as arbitrators across several seats, the advisory board members were asked to confirmthat the information on which the assessment was based was complete and to suggest refinements to the results as appropriate, and to  ensure the reports comported with their own experience or that of their peers. Like the assessment panel, the advisory board members were each assigned a different combination of seats for assessment.

Finalising the texts

With the input of the advisory board incorporated, the reports were settled by the Co-chairs, Lord Peter Goldsmith QC and Professor Doug Jones AO, and approved by the advisory board, with copies also provided to the assessment panel.

During both the assessment panel stage and the subsequent advisory board review, every effort was made when assigning seats to avoid matches that could be questioned because of a close relationship between the reviewer and the seat. So, for example, Lord Goldsmith QC recused himself from consideration of the results in relation to Hong Kong given his current role with HKIAC.

The first six seats

In the inaugural year, six seats were assessed:

These seats were selected because they are among the most frequently selected. Unsurprisingly, all garnered high approval at every stage of the process. Indeed, if ratings were given, then all six would be either AAA, or AA. All measure up well against the London PrinciplesL they're popular seats for a reason.

(Note. Because little in the way of meaningful distinction was found between these six seats, it was decided to postpone the process of rating for now, until more places have been added to the Index and greater differences have emerged.)

More seats are to be added. Now a baseline has been established with this first crop of seats, it will be interesting to see how newer, smaller and less familiar seats compare, and whether some measure up favourably with and even perhaps exceed the standards set in relation to particular principles.

We welcome feedback on these reports and readers are encouraged to use the comments section below each report to give their opinions on both reports and seats.

Doug Jones AO and Lord Peter Goldsmith QC

End note. At the appropriate point, ratings will be added to each seat – once a critical mass of insight is reached. The ratings will be in the style of bond ratings, or country risk. So:

AAA - highly desirable as a seat
AA – desirable as a seat
A – generally desirable as a seat
BBB – reliably supportive of the IA process and result
BB – generally supportive of the IA process and result
B – supportive in some respects of the IA process and/or result
CCC – some risk to the process or the result
CC – moderate risk to the process or the result
C – substantial risk to the process or the result
D – not recommendable