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Guide to Regional Arbitration (volume 7 - 2019)

Welcome to GAR’s guide to regional arbitration

02 January 2019

Welcome to GAR GRA, a guide to less well-known institutions.

Why publish a book on those? After all, global corporations are not great experimenters when it comes to disputes. Despite some grumbling, they favour tried and tested options, which (in case of the ICC and LCIA) this guide ignores.

Why a book on the less sure-fire part of the market? For a simple reason: those options exist. And if they exist, they can’t be ignored, because, inevitably, someone will propose them. And when they do, the more you know the better.

Why do new arbitral institutions keep coming along? Well, for one the world is big – and getting bigger. The frontiers of the global economy move all the time. And organisations such as the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) are small by comparison. At the top end, they consist of just two or three executives who are attempting to ensure the brand is sufficiently well known in every part of the world to hoover up all the disputes, but who have only one real tool at their disposal: the event and the personal visit. It’s physically impossible for them to succeed. Others will always feel there is room for a well-targeted local option.

Second, international corporations are in fact more promiscuous when it comes to negotiating dispute clauses than one might think. There will always be times when it makes sense to go local in return for a concession from the other side. “It just depends how much they want the deal” according to one in-houser from an oil services company speaking at a GAR Live event (New York, 2012). In some places this tendency is more pronounced – lawyers who cover Latin America say it’s particularly common to end up with a local arbitral institution.

Is the growth of arbitral providers a positive or negative development? In a way it’s neither; it simply is. The impulse to have an arbitration centre is a bit like the impulse to have a stock exchange: fairly universal among states. It tends to pull even more strongly if the local courts are gridlocked or for other reasons don’t work.

For the specialist community that GAR serves, there are benefits to this breeding of new arbitral institutions. Competition is good. Would all of the innovations seen in recent years have emerged if institutions weren’t in something of an arms race? It can also add tremendous convenience to your life. If you work somewhere that a good regional arbitral provider has taken root it may be less necessary to schlep witnesses, experts, lawyers and documents around the planet.

Above all – more important than all other concerns, for or against regional and local arbitration – they help to expand international arbitration’s pie. If Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, opens a local-cum-international arbitration centre (as indeed it recently did) local business starts to encounter the idea of arbitration. The centre promotes the concept and explains it, and local businesses and their lawyers have a chance to experience the reality of it – in a smaller form. And having done so, they are more likely to accept the larger form – at the ICC, LCIA or ICDR, say. In that sense, local and regional institutions is as go-karting is to motor racing: it serves as a gateway. (In the same way, local arbitration centres help to expand the arbitral pool.) Or to use a more common refrain, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Of course for that to work the “product” on offer at the local level must be satisfying. That’s the only risk to unregulated expansion. What if the new centres corrupt international arbitration’s “brand”? That’s where books such as this come in.

It aims to answer a couple of questions. First, who are these local or regional arbitral providers? And second, which are dependable?

To that end you will find reports on the state of play in Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America (the places where one finds more of these lesser-known arbitral providers), and North America and western Europe, where there are many players you might not have heard of.

These give you a “white list” – those that you can regard as a safe pair of hands in most circumstances – and a “worth a closer look” list. This group are worth consideration and may be a fine choice depending on the case. There are also directories for each region, listing all the arbitral providers we know.

In addition there is a chapter called “Special Occasions” for arbitral centres that specialise in a form of arbitration or industry, rather than in a country or region.

Throughout, the views expressed are those of GAR alone. We’re indebted to those who did assist, however, and some of them are credited in the relevant chapters. Thanks also go to the GAR journalists Lacey Yong and Cosmo Sanderson who monitored developments this year for this update.

Not everybody will agree with our selections. Even we’re not fully content with aspects of them (there are a couple of organisations that we’d like to include who haven’t responded yet to our various enquiries). So, if you know someone who feels left out, or wish to lobby on a centre’s behalf, please do get in touch.

This is now our seventh edition. It contains new facts and figures and adjusts the White Lists and Worth a Closer Look lists in several chapters. GAR Award winner DELOS is added to the Special Occasions chapter, and the Russian Institute of Modern Arbitration to the Eastern Europe chapter.

As mentioned, it doesn’t included lengthy descriptions of the LCIA or the ICC: we figure anyone thinking of using a regional institution already knows all about those two names.

Please send any thoughts or suggestions to david.samuels@globalarbitrationreview.com.

David Samuels

Publisher, Global Arbitration Review

All information in this guide is correct as of October 2018.