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Guide To Regional Arbitration (volume 4 - 2016)

Institutions Worth a Closer Look: Western Europe

03 November 2015

Europe is home to the biggest arbitration providers in the world, the ICC and the LCIA. So, why feature anyone else? Aren’t the rest just little fish?

Well, yes and no. For a start there are some at least medium-sized fish, such as the SCC and Swiss Chambers. But more importantly – as we said in the guide’s introduction – other providers exist. And when an arbitral institution exists, one can always run into it (or find a use for it). Western Europe is full of such organisations. Some are happy to play a purely domestic role. But most, at some level, have wider ambitions. They’d like a bit more international work.

Whether they will succeed remains to be seen. Bernardo Cremades, writing for GAR back in 2011, put it well: “Experience as lawyers has taught us that we cannot recommend adventures to our clients and we try to include arbitration clauses for centres where parties have had positive experiences.”

So only centres that “offer the greatest confidence to the companies using arbitration” will rise to the top.

But in the meantime, the chance of bumping into one of Europe’s “other” arbitration centres is definitely higher. So below we offer a selection of the better ones.

The ICC and the LCIA

It’s difficult to have a chapter on arbitration in Western Europe without mentioning the LCIA or the ICC at all. But this will, necessarily, be brief; this is still a book about lesser-known institutions.

The ICC International Court of Arbitration (ICC)

What is it?

An administrative body attached to, but independent of, the ICC for the facilitation and approval of decisions made by independent tribunals appointed under the ICC arbitration rules – it only renders administrative decisions, not decisions on the merits. It was set up in 1923.

How is it structured?

The ICC Court is large (almost 150 members and a secretariat of 80) all of whom play an active role in the court’s functions. The court is headed by a president and 17 vice presidents who are generally leading experts in the field.

John Beechey stepped down as president of the ICC Court in June 2015, and was replaced by Alexis Mourre.

What sets it apart?

It’s been at the forefront of international arbitration’s development since early part of the 20th century. Its chamber wrote a forebear to the New York Convention. Plus its size and structure make it unique among the institutions in this guide.

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)

What is it?

London’s leading arbitration provider. It’s been in existence for more than 100 years (taking into account the lifespan of the bodies that combined to set it up), but took on its current identity in the 1980s when various interested parties decided it should be remoulded into an international organisation.

What does it look like today?

The LCIA has been a fixture of GAR’s news pages in recent years, with the appointment of Jacomijn van Haersolte-van Hof as former-director general Adrian Winstanley’s replacement, along with a new set of rules in 2014. These brought several changes, including provisions establishing ethical guidelines for counsel, provisions on the consolidation of tribunals and provisions for emergency relief.

What sets it apart?

The LCIA is a smaller affair than the ICC, with 35 members, it appoints arbitrators from its own database and, perhaps, takes a less bureaucratic approach. In this way it’s similar to the smaller centres listed below, at the same time as offering users almost unparalleled expertise and service.

Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPANI)

Why’s it worth a closer look?

It’s Belgium’s largest and best-known centre, celebrating its 45th birthday this year.

How large?

It has more than 230 members, many of whom have played a central role in Belgium’s recent arbitration makeover.

Such as who?

Guy Keutgen, who until recently was CEPANI’s president, chaired a 15-person drafting committee that produced the new Belgian Arbitration Act, which came into force in September 2013, and which the centre’s new rules are based on.

Another member of the drafting committee, Dirk De Meulemeester, himself a co-founder of the centre’s under-40 group, is CEPANI’s new president. He took over in June 2014.

What’s in the centre’s new rules?

Provisions on multiple parties, multiple contracts and interim measures, among other tweaks. It also introduced “light” rules for sub-€25,000 matters.

What’s the reaction been?

It’s early days, but the rules did have the honour of being selected for the 2013–2014 Vis Moot problem. The truth is, it’s probably not CEPANI’s rules that have been holding it – and Belgium – back.

So what has?

The former arbitration regime. It was something of a loose cannon, in that it wasn’t based on the UNCITRAL Model Law. It also introduced rules whereby challenges to arbitrators and applications to set aside awards were dealt with through regular, non-expedited court procedures and were open to appeal. This could lead to arbitrations being put on hold for significant periods. So the experiment failed.

Is the experiment over?

Yes. The new law walks the line fairly closely: most of the UNCITRAL provisions are taken up without significant adaptation. The preparatory works also mention that inspiration was drawn from the national arbitration laws of Germany, Switzerland and France.

Will the more mainstream law help CEPANI?

It’s no doubt hoping so, as it played a major role in the reform. It could probably use a boost of big-ticket work as well.

Why’s that?

A sizeable portion of the centre’s cases are at the lower end of the price spectrum: 33 per cent of the procedures that closed in 2014 had award values of €12,500 or less.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

It’s not eye-popping – only 1 per cent of cases had an award of more than €12.5 million – but that might be a symptom of its largely domestic caseload.

Go on…

Only a fifth of 2014 cases had a foreign connection, with nearly half opting for proceedings in Dutch. That said, there’s been a big increase in CEPANI-administrated cases outside of Belgium – from zero in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2014, and, enforcement-wise, it’s recommended over the other local providers.

Nevertheless, the values sound pretty low.

True, but every cloud has a silver lining. CEPANI has a pretty successful policy of appointing younger arbitrators in disputes of €25,000 or less, which, considering the volume of low-value cases, could make for some experienced new blood in future large matters.

How else is it looking to the future?

It’s been busy in the marketing trail. CEPANI has taken part in Belgian royal economic missions to such places as Saudi Arabia and Oman and forged new cooperation agreements with the Dutch Arbitration Institute and the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Arbitration of Milan (CAM)

Why’s it worth watching?

CAM has become something of a lightning rod for disputes from around the Mediterranean.

Is that deliberate?

Yes. Whereas some have shied away from international work, viewing it as an expensive distraction (lots of travel and management costs associated with building your brand), CAM has done the opposite. It’s aimed squarely at work from abroad, particularly its immediate environs – from North Africa to Turkey and parts of the Middle East.

How did it do that?

By promoting itself and also the concept of arbitration extensively.

With what success?

In 2014, it received 148 new cases. Since 2009, its new cases total hasn’t dropped below 120.

What’s driving that?

Astute network building, in part.

At a conference back in 2010, secretary general Stefano Azzali said the Milan Chamber is actively trying to open up international arbitration markets in the southern Mediterranean by entering cooperation talks with other institutions.

Any in particular?

The Moroccan Arbitration Court, the Centre of Arbitration of Tunis, the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, the Algerian Centre of Arbitration and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.

What does this mean for the cases?

When CAM launched its Mediterranean “project” back in 2005, the stated aim was to create a specific set of ADR services tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises – a very common business model in this part of the world. The majority of the disputes it’s handling fall below the €1 million mark, which suggests that smaller businesses do indeed see it as a good option.

Does it get any big-ticket work?

Relatively speaking, yes. It currently has a €1 billion matter on its books, and 14 cases worth €10 million-plus.

Does it turn cases around efficiently?

The average turnaround time is a little over a year. It handed out 61 final awards in 2014.

How international is it?

Regrettably, there are no statistics on international users. The board, however, includes Spanish and German lawyers alongside some eminent Italians – Luigi Fumagalli is president and Gaetano Presti is his deputy. And the rules are available in Arabic as well as the major European languages.

Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid

Why white-list this centre?

Spain isn’t short of arbitration centres, but this one stands out because it’s been around for a long time (it was established in 1989) and has done better than most in attracting decent-sized international cases.

What is decent-sized here?

The court estimates the total value in dispute to be around US$1.3 billion, US$800 million of which is tied to international arbitrations.

What does the caseload look like?

New requests topped 150 in 2013 (the latest statistics we had access to), and the overall total of cases being administered was just over 200.

Within this, banking and corporate disputes are a big component, perhaps unsurprisingly given Spain’s recent misfortunes.

What are the rules like?

The most recent rules came into effect in 2015, expanding on the previous set from 2009, which brought together elements of the UNCITRAL, ICC and (then current) LCIA rules.

The biggest change was the introduction of emergency arbitrator provisions, in line with what is now the international norm. Elsewhere, there were tweaks to the rules on the presentation of additional evidence, which if now more restricted, and there are new regulations for disputes related to company by-laws.

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Have there been any other recent changes?

In April 2014, the court appointed a new president, Antonio Sanchez-Pedrano, who’s been arbitrating there for years. He plans to focus on raising the institution’s international standing and continuing his predecessor Miguel Angel Fernandez-Ballesteros’ commitment to Latin America.

What did Fernandez-Ballestero do?

Under his leadership, the centre forged collaboration agreements with Latin American centres such as the Câmara de Comércio Brasil Canada (CCBC) and the Corte de Arbitraje in Mexico.

True to his word, in 2015, Sanchez-Pedrano oversaw the inking of a collaboration agreement with the Arbitration Centre of the Lima Chamber of Commerce.

How big is the secretariat?

It has seven members and is headed by secretary general and executive director Elena Gutiérrez. It’s got a good reputation for efficiency in its administration, turning most cases around in less than a year.

Corte Española de Arbitraje (CEA)

Why’s it a good institution?

Spain has no shortage of arbitration centres, but the CEA is among the best-known and respected.

Why’s that?

It’s been in business for more than 30 years, and for most of that time it had a heavyweight figurehead in the person of president Bernardo Cremades.

It’s also firmly enmeshed in the Spanish business community, in that it sits, as a body, within the nationwide network of chambers of commerce and has access to the various regional arbitration and mediation centres across Spain.

Does that make it more domestic than international?

It plays a role in Spanish life, certainly, but also has visions of more international work. In 2013, it put on an event promoting cooperation between Spanish arbitration practitioners and judges in order to make Spain a more attractive venue for international arbitration. But there’s a complication.

What’s that?

It faces some stiff competition from its close rival, the Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid (see above). It seems to be a hard fact that in most major arbitration jurisdictions there’s only room for one top dog. London, Stockholm and Singapore all bear witness to this.

Some think the Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid is working harder to achieve this “go-to” status in Spain.

Of course there might be room for both if, say, Spain adopted something akin to the Swiss model (see the Swiss Rules segment in a moment). Changes made a few years ago – the creation of a Spanish Arbitration Club to front Spain’s push as a seat of arbitration, for example – have yet to go quite that far.

So what could the CEA do to up its game?

It could do more to promote itself. At the time of writing there’s one post, from July 2012, in the website’s events and press section.

What does it already do well?

The most recent full set of rules came into force in 2010 and prioritise speed. In ordinary proceedings, the arbitrators are expected to render their award within five months (!), with a potential extension of one month. Summary and expedited proceedings were also introduced for lower-value matters.

That sounds…

… Attractive yet daunting? It’s certainly attractive to a particular type of client and dispute, but complex cases might be harder to fit in with such strict deadlines, unless counsel can go without sleep to meet them.

Danish Institute of Arbitration (DIA)

Why’s it on the white list?

It’s a healthy centre with a strong caseload and good connections, and it refuses to be overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, the SCC. It’s also far from being a new kid on the block.

How old is it?

GAR covered its 30th anniversary celebration and conference in 2011, which 200 delegates from 14 countries attended. Richard Kreindler, Wolfgang Peter, Julian Lew QC and Total Gas’s Stephen Douglas all spoke.

What’s the caseload like?

The DIA, like most other European institutions, has seen a downturn in cases since the beginning of the decade, but the 2014 statistics are a very respectable 116, which is actually a slight increase on the previous year.

How international are the cases?

The institute’s rules are available in Danish, English, German, French, Russian and Chinese, and a quarter of all cases were international in 2014.

Parties from 17 countries registered cases in 2014. Traditional domestic matters made up a little under half of the caseload, with the rest of the total made up with non-traditional cases.

What are “non-traditional” cases?

Simplified procedures, interim and emergency arbitrator-led cases, mediation, and ad hoc matters.

What about the topics of cases?

A broad mixture, with shareholder agreement cases coming out on top, followed by IT and telecoms. A fair few M&A, employment, cooperation and distribution agreements also came the centre’s way in 2014.

Have there been any changes of late?

The DIA’s new rules come into force in May 2013 and now allow for interim and emergency arbitrator appointments (one of which was made in 2013), consolidation of claims and parties, provisions for sole arbitrator appointments, and some extra powers and responsibilities for tribunals and the secretariat.

The dispute board rules were adopted in 2014 and the mediation and experts rules were revised in 2015.

Is it well staffed?

The board is 12-strong, chaired by local big-hitter Jesper Lett, and made up mostly of lawyers appointed by various Danish industry associations. The centre also boasts expert committees on maritime, IT, mediation and international disputes.

What else is it up to?

The DIA is starting to put itself a little more in the shop window. It put on a conference on the arbitration of energy disputes aimed at an international crowd, with Doak Bishop giving the keynote, in 2014.

Deutsche Institution für Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit eV (German Institution of Arbitration) (DIS)

Why’s it on the white list?

It’s the best-known and best-thought-of centre in Germany, where the only other international player is the German Maritime Arbitration Association.

How did it get to the top?

It’s had the right backing: Karl-Heinz Böckstiegel, for instance, is a former president and remains a cheerleader for the centre. The current chairman is Klaus Peter Berger.

So how international is it?

It’s becoming more so. In 2009 it started reaching out to German professionals working abroad, in a bid to promote itself more effectively, setting up a regional group in London and launching the DIS IberoAmericana project, which aims to promote Germany as a venue for Latin American arbitrations being conducted in Spanish and Portuguese.

In 2012 it appointed a new secretary general, Italian Francesca Mazza, in part because she has plenty of international experience.

As for statistics, these show foreign parties participating in around 30 per cent of cases in recent years. The biggest non-German users are Swiss and US parties, though Dutch, Italian, Chinese, British and Luxembourgish parties all appeared in multiple cases recently.

Why’s it well thought of?

Users favourably compare the reliability and responsiveness of its case management with that of the ICC, while at the same time noting that arbitrator fees are lower and turnaround quicker than the Paris centre. The secretariat is 11-members strong and led by recent appointee Francesca Mazza (formerly of the ICC), who users seem to love.

It also has a long history and a reputation for stability.

When was it founded?

In 1992, when the German Arbitration Committee (established 1920) merged with the German Arbitration Institute (established 1974).

How quick is it?

The average dispute duration, from filing to award, is around 14 months according to users.

What kind of disputes does it see?

Post-M&A and corporate cases, in particular shareholder disputes, are a big element and users like the centre’s supplementary rules for corporate claims, which came into force in 2009. Sport is another key sector for DIS disputes.

Have any rule changes come in recently?

The most recent DIS rules date from 1998 and are noted for their similarity to the German arbitration law and, consequently, the UNCITRAL rules. The centre introduced rules for expedited procedures in 2008, and new rules on mediation, adjudication, expertise, expert determination and conflict management were introduced in 2010.

How busy is it?

It registered just over 120 new cases in 2013 (the most recent stats we’ve seen), with a similar number in 2012; both mark a fall from a high point in 2011, when 174 new cases were brought.

And case value?

This is way down on 2011 as well: that year the total amount in dispute at the centre was €3.9 billion. In 2012 the figure was €940 million, but passed the €1 billion mark again in 2013.

Any pitfalls?

Not as such. The only consistent recommendation one hears is that the centre keep trying to build its international presence, perhaps by offering more services in non-European languages.

The Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FCC)

Why’s it worth a closer look?

It has a strong caseload, and has embarked on a series of steps to position itself better for international work. It’s also very old and well known.

How old?

The first arbitral rules of the FCC were adopted in 1910. The institution was founded the following year.

How busy is it?

It had 63 new requests in 2014, a dip on 2013’s 80. Almost all were brought under the centre’s rules.

How new are the rules?

The centre’s revised rules, expedited rules, and use of secretary and arbitrator guidelines came into force in June 2013, part of a series of rule reforms that year.

Are any of the new measures unique to the Finnish centre?

One quite interesting step: it’s now required that the centre’s board include both Finnish and non-Finnish nationals.

Who’s on the board?

Mika Savola of Hannes Snellman is the chair. Marko Hentunen and Petra Kiurunen are vice-chairs. The international board members include big names like Gabrielle Nater-Bass, Christopher Seppälä and Sophie Lamb.

How international are the users?

They hailed mainly from Western Europe in 2014. But there were parties from Poland, Russia, India and the US too.

What kind of matters does it see?

Company acquisitions and shareholders’ agreements claimed the biggest chunks of the centre’s work in 2014, with the majority of parties coming from the manufacturing and tech sectors.

How long do cases take?

The centre is very efficient. On average, cases get turned around in nine months, or three months under the expedited procedure rules. And the overwhelming majority of cases (85 per cent in 2014) are heard by sole arbitrators, not tribunals. It’s also grown less bashful about promoting itself – and Finland.

How so?

An annual Helsinki International Arbitration Day is now organised by the centre, and the programme is consistently strong. The next one is due in May 2016.

Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI)

Why’s it worth a closer look?

It’s a long-established (1949) and well-thought-of generalist in a country where the arbitral environment has been shaped by some big-hitting specialist providers.

Why’s that an advantage?

The presence of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and some others, have helped to create a respect for arbitration – including supportive state courts. Not many people realise, for example, that the NAI is only the second-largest arbitration institution in the country.

Which is the largest?

The Utrecht De Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw, which handles construction disputes.

How international is the NAI?

It’s fair to say that the NAI hasn’t sought international work, viewing it at one point as a management distraction.

Even so almost a third of its registered cases in 2014 were international, but the 300-strong arbitrator pool is still overwhelmingly Dutch.

Why is that?

Each arbitration taking place in the country, regardless of party nationality, is subject to the Dutch Arbitration Act, which is pretty liberal, but has some quirks: the concept of summary arbitral proceedings is more or less uniquely Dutch. So it helps if the arbitrators are literate in Dutch arbitration law.

Is the all-Dutch arbitrator pool an issue?

It’s debatable. Some think if there’s no Dutch party, the case might be better suited to another international institution.

How up-to-date are the rules?

The current version came into effect in 2015, at the same time as the new Dutch Arbitration Act.

How efficient is the centre at the moment?

A little over 40 per cent of the 2014’s registered cases were concluded in the same year.

The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC)

Why’s it white-listed?

Thanks to a combination of factors, the SCC and its staff “just know what they are doing”, to quote one source. The competence extends to international cases.

What factors?

For a start it is nearly 100 years old (established in 1917). But added to that, Swedish business has a tradition of arbitrating its disputes, rather than airing them in the public courts. So the SCC is not only old, but vastly experienced.

But what really propelled it towards international work was a twist of fate.

What happened?

In the 1970s the US and the Soviet Union needed somewhere to resolve (a surprisingly large amount of) trading disputes. The ICC was rejected by the Soviet side. Instead sides alighted on the SCC and Sweden. The SCC became known for East–West disputes.

But the Soviet Union no longer exists…

True, but there are still East–West disputes, or at least disputes that share the same dynamic. These days the SCC seeks to attract disputes arising from Western firms doing deals in China, Africa, the Middle East.

So the SCC is still doing well?

Absolutely. In 2013 more than 200 new cases came through the door, a four-year high. In 2014 the total was down to 183. But it hasn’t dropped below 170 for almost a decade. The majority of new cases are using the SCC’s own rules.

What kinds of cases?

Traditionally it’s service and supply agreement cases, which, along with business acquisition matters, were the busiest areas in 2014.

It has also benefited from more investment treaties naming it as an acceptable case-administrator.

How many treaties?

According to the centre’s statistics, 60 investment treaties provide for arbitration under the SCC rules, while 61 treaties list the SCC as an appointing authority and 13 list Stockholm as the seat of arbitration.

It sounds very international. Is it?

The board is impressively diverse and it does receive plenty of international cases. But even so, Swedish-only cases still take up around half of the centre’s time.

Is that changing?

Possibly. For a while the SCC had to fight the stereotype that it was a relic of the Soviet era. It seems to have done so successfully, but there can be blips. International cases were at their lowest level for five years in 2013. Some think it needs to go further in a couple of areas – such as bringing more arbitrators in from outside Sweden, and using younger arbitrators.

What about case values?

These are high. The official top 10 of its highest-value disputes range from €1.3 billion to €13 billion, though, anecdotally, claims administered by the SCC (though not necessarily under the centre’s rules) have recently reached almost twice that amount.

What else sets it apart from its rivals?

The SCC is cheap and turns cases around impressively fast when compared with either the ICC or the LCIA. Its “brand” can also help to get awards enforced in difficult jurisdictions such as Russia and China.

Why is it so quick?

SCC case administration is noted for its “light touch”. The rules don’t require any terms of reference and contain no formal procedure for scrutiny of awards.

That, in turn, puts a heavy burden on the arbitrators, who have to police their own quality. But the SCC board helps out here by taking an unusually active interest at the appointment phase.

The centre also blazed a trail in 2010, when it introduced an expedited procedure and provisions for emergency arbitrators (who are appointed within 24 hours of a request). The second change has since been added to the rulebooks of various other centres around the world (although some of the leading arbitrators don’t love it – because the job is a lot of work for not much pay).

Who’s running the show?

Chairman Ulf Franke was SCC secretary general from 1975 to 2000 and secretary general of ICCA from 1994 to 2004, and is also a former president of the IFCAI.

The eight-member, full-time secretariat handles the daily case management, organisation of events, producing publications and so on, under the leadership of Annette Magnusson, who’s held the reins since 2010. She was previously SCC legal counsel and later deputy secretary general from 1998 to 2005.

Cases are administered in English, Swedish, Russian, French and German.

Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution (Swiss Rules)

Is it a set of rules or a centre?

That’s a tricky one. It is a set of rules, and an approach.

What’s the “approach”?

In the 1990s, there was a general feeling that it would be good to have a single Swiss arbitration service, as it would be easier to promote internationally. But local chambers of commerce were viewed as unlikely to agree. They all administered international cases and would be likely to lose out.

The solution was “the Swiss model”; a common set of rules, administered by all chambers of commerce. The Swiss arbitration institution, therefore, is a marketing and management layer that has grown up to maintain the rules and promote their use internationally.

The Swiss rules came into force in 2004, and were revised in 2007 and 2012.

How is it working?

Very well. The rules take their lead from the UNCITRAL model and the most recent HKIAC rules and are said to be user-friendly.

Then there’s the appeal of Switzerland as a whole.

What’s that?

Swiss law is highly favourable to arbitration. In particular, appeals (themselves on very limited grounds) can only be lodged with the Supreme Court, the lower courts stay out of it. The Supreme Court hands its decisions down fast.

So how well are the rules doing internationally?

Better and better, it appears. In 2014, 77 per cent of parties were non-Swiss, a figure that hasn’t dropped below 70 per cent in the rules’ history.

Where did the “non-Swiss” parties come from?

Asian parties are frequent users, but western Europeans still dominate the caseload. Language might be as big a factor as geography here.

How so?

It offers arbitration in English (its most-used language) but is equally competent in German, French and Italian, and has also administered cases in Spanish. The rules are now available in 13 languages, including Arabic and Chinese.

Do the rules have much currency outside of Switzerland?

Yes. As of 2014, the Israeli Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution in Tel Aviv has been promoting the use of Swiss Rules in international commercial cases between Israeli and foreign companies.

What kind of cases does it handle?

Purchase and sale of goods has been the busiest over the institution’s history, and were among the most frequent cases of 2014. The average amount at stake was around 9 million Swiss francs.

Last year, 40 per cent of all cases were conducted under the expedited procedure rules.

How fast are they?

Expedited procedures have been part of the rules since the beginning and such cases take an average of seven months from filing to award, but ordinary proceedings are pretty speedy anyway, taking an average of 14 months.

What are the case figures?

The most recent statistics saw new filings, at 105, bounce back dramatically from 2013, when they hit a five-year low of 68.

How up-to-date are the rules?

The last revision was in 2012 and focused on speeding up proceedings. The deadlines for arbitrator challenges and deposit payments were cut to 15 days, and parties to expedited procedures are now required to pay 5,000 Swiss francs upfront so the tribunal can get things moving the same day. There’s also the threat that if parties hinder the efficiency of the process it might be reflected in the allocation of costs. As of 2012 the rules feature an article on emergency relief, imposing a 15-working-day time limit on decisions.

How has this panned out?

The centre got its first emergency filing on 4 February 2014 and the decision came through on 20 February. So far, so good.

Any other news?

In August 2014 the centre adopted new rules under which it can act as an appointing authority in ad hoc cases, and issued new guidelines for arbitrators, who are now required to report the time that has elapsed since the original filing when submitting their draft awards, to help calculate fees.

Frank Spoorenberg of Tavernier Tschanz in Geneva recently became the new vice chairman of the centre’s arbitration court.

How well-staffed is it?

Cesare Jermini is the second vice chair and Philipp Habegger the overall chairman. The secretariat has one representative in each member-chamber throughout the country, which users say makes for great personal communication – when you call, you know who you’re speaking to.