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Guide to Regional Arbitration (volume 7 - 2019)

Whitelist / Institutions Worth a Closer Look – Western Europe

02 January 2019

Western Europe is home to probably the two best-known international arbitration institutions to the layperson – the ICC and the LCIA. Since they’re so well known, rehashing their strengths and (occasional) weaknesses here won’t add much to the sum of knowledge.

Instead, we concentrate on the other western European providers that are, in the right scenario, every bit a match for those two. Some, such as the SCC and Swiss Chambers, are well known already; others less so, at least outside their locale. All of them, you can be pretty sure, are keen to do more international work.

So, because they exist, and are ambitious (for the most part), and might be a good fit for the right case, here is our guide to the cream of the European crop that’s not the ICC and LCIA.

White List

  • Chamber of Arbitration in Milan (CAM)
  • Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid
  • Danish Institute of Arbitration (DIA)
  • Deutsche Institution Für Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit Ev (German Institute of Arbitration) (DIS)
  • Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FCC)
  • Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI)
  • Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC)
  • Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institute (Swiss Rules)
  • Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC)

Worth a Closer Look

  • Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPANI)
  • Corte Española de Arbitraje (CEA)
  • Paris, the Home of International Arbitration (Paris Rules)
  • Scottish Arbitration Centre

White List


Why’s it on the white list?

It’s very well thought of – and quite international.

How international?

While some have shied away from international work (it’s expensive to build your brand away from home), CAM has done the opposite. It’s aimed itself squarely at work from beyond – focusing on North Africa, Turkey and parts of the Middle East. To that end, it’s formed partnerships with a number of other providers in the region – such as 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. It’s also translated its rules into Arabic, as well as various European languages. Its board is profoundly international too – with Spanish and German lawyers in among eminent Italians.

How busy is it?

In 2017, it received 131 new cases. Of the 343 parties arbitrating at CAM, 33 (9.6%) are foreign. Since 2009, its new cases total hasn’t dropped below 120 (the Milan Chamber is excellent at statistics).

What reviews does it get from those foreigners who have had cases there?

Nowadays, excellent – from both arbitrators and counsel. This comes after a period where foreign visitors were more lukewarm (though those complaints were more about the mores of Italian arbitrators and their ability to cooperate than with CAM).

What is the Milan Chamber good at?

Arbitrators who sit there particularly like being given a member of CAM’s staff for each case as secretary – it saves them from having to pay for one. And everyone gives CAM good marks for administration. One person described its secretariat’s work as “flawless”. It is also quick; the average time for a Milan Chamber arbitration hovers around the 14-month mark.

How does it appoint arbitrators?

More and more rigorously. After realising that its brand was being affected by the behaviour of its appointees, CAM started to vet candidates with extreme care – to the point where one source says it is “as demanding as the ICC”. One upside has been far more diverse tribunals (in terms of sex, age and – if the arbitrator is Italian – where in Italy they’re from).

Are there any other new developments?

The Milan Chamber is one of the institutions that now publishes the names of arbitrators it appoints on its website. It also releases gender diversity statistics as part of its commitment to the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge.

Those show that in 2017, 29 of the 195 arbitrators were women. CAM reported similar figures for the previous year.

In other news, Stefano Azzali, chair of CAM, is the current president of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions (IFCAI). He was appointed in 2017.


Why’s it white-listed?

Spain has plenty arbitration centres, but the Madrid court is possibly the best of the bunch (one source called it “head and shoulders” above local rivals). As well as being one of the oldest, the Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid is described as more modern, forward-thinking and professional than the norm. More importantly, it bucks a local trend: it’s not seen as dominated by a particular clique.

How many cases does it have?

The total for administered cases in 2017 was 145 (down, but only slightly, on 150 in 2016).

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

How big and international are those cases?

In 2017, the court estimated the total value in dispute to be around €1 billion. 17% of its arbitrations were international.

What are its rules like?

It adopted the current rules in 2015. They’re said to combine elements of the UNCITRAL, ICC and LCIA rules (as they were then). The rules now include an emergency arbitrator provision. The other main changes were to narrow the opportunity to present additional evidence later in the case and clarify the rules for hearing disputes about company by-laws.

Who’s in charge?

Since April 2014, the court has had Antonio Sánchez-Pedreño, well known in Spanish arbitration, as its president. He was reappointed for a second four-year term in 2018. His first term was all about continuity. His second, though, seems to herald change.

Why? What’s happened?

The court has since announced it is “doing away” with its list of arbitrators, and will also begin publishing the names of those appointed. Meanwhile it has also opened three new hearing rooms in a former palace. With period features and gilt decor, they are described as “spectacular” in style.

Are these changes a big deal?

In some ways not really. The court hasn’t actually used a list in the traditional sense for years. Rather it gave parties full autonomy over who they appoint, and only maintained “a” list as an aid for those who needed one.

But that’s not to say they don’t have some value, even if mainly as PR. For a start, they help to dispel any lingering traces that it is a “closed shop”. They also remove a possible source of confusion for the parties; some saw the list and thought it was mandatory. And they get rid of an element of the court that was out of kilter with the times, consisting as it did mainly of old, white males.

So how are arbitrators appointed?

Parties can appoint whoever they like. In the absence of party appointment, the court will produce a list and parties can strike names off, and rank the rest. There’s also a third technique, whereby the parties and court each submit lists. These are combined and randomised and then passed back to the parties. They then strike off and rank – but unaware of which entity proposed whom.

As a general rule, the court does not appoint an arbitrator more than once over any given set of parties. However, as part of its recent set of reforms, it has said it may be willing to appoint an arbitrator from an earlier case between two sides to a subsequent one, if a special committee led by the president approves.

How big is the secretariat?

It has seven members. It’s got a good reputation for efficiency in its administration, turning most cases around in less than a year. In 2018, the court appointed former Arias SLP partner Dámaso Riaño as its new secretary general.

So what else is new?

The court has started soliciting feedback from parties. Parties can fill out a questionnaire, rating their satisfaction with the court and the arbitrators.

It has also created a database of “associates of the court”. While the database will not be used to appoint arbitrators, it will have profiles containing the personal and practice details of anyone who is interested in arbitration. The court says that associates will also receive certain benefits.

Aren’t three Madrid centres merging?

They’re supposed to be, but there isn’t anything definite in place yet. In late 2017, the Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid and two other local entities did sign a memorandum of understanding aimed at negotiating their combination. As yet, those talks haven’t resulted in further news (the MOU supposedly expired in March).

Would such a set be popular? Undoubtedly. Many lawyers believe, as a seat, having so many different arbitral institutions holds Spain back. So if nothing happens this time, at some point, it probably, will.


Why’s it on the white list?

It’s a well-run centre, with a healthy caseload and good connections in the wider international arbitration world. And it’s been doing it a while – since 1981.

What’s the caseload?

The centre reports administering 103 cases in 2017. In the previous year, it administered 135 cases; that was its biggest caseload in five years. Together they make the third straight year the figures have grown.

How international are the cases?

In 2017, 26 of the 103 cases were international. The previous year, 32 out of 135 were (again, the highest number for five years). It’s international enough that its rules are now available in Danish, English, German, French, Russian and Chinese. When it comes to arbitrators, though, it appoints mostly Danes.

What explains the increase in cases?

Unknown. But in 2013 the centre amended its rules to bring them into line with other international arbitral institutions. It may have made itself more palatable in the process.

What are the rules like?

The 2013 DIA rules allow for interim and emergency arbitrator appointments, consolidation of claims and parties, provisions for sole-arbitrator appointments, and some extra powers and responsibilities for tribunals and the secretariat.

There are also dispute board rules and mediation, and expert determination rules. The dispute board rules were adopted in 2014 and the mediation and experts rules were revised in 2015.

What’s the staff like?

It has a 12-strong team, chaired by Jeppe Skadhauge, who is a local luminary. The remainder is mostly lawyers appointed by various Danish industry associations. The centre also boasts expert committees on maritime, IT, mediation and international disputes.

What’s it doing to promote itself internationally?

It’s done various things over the years to put itself more in the shop window – usually some form of event in Denmark with relevant international partners. In 2018, it co-organised the annual Nordic summit on commercial dispute resolution. In 2017, it hosted the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA XX).

Next year it will help to host Copenhagen Arbitration Day. It also maintains an active young arbitrators group.


Why’s it on the white list?

It is a competent and professional German organisation that’s starting, in some ways, to resemble the ICC.

How did it get to this point?

Good leadership. For many years it was led by Karl-Heinz Böckstiegel, and then by Klaus Peter Berger. Today the president is Herbert Kronke.

How international is it?

It has steadily become more so. According to the most recent statistics, in 2017 DIS handled 55 foreign-related cases – up from 47 in 2016. In 14 of those, both sides were foreign. The increase appears to follow a phase during which DIS embarked to raise its profile abroad. This included getting expat German lawyers to promote it (through vehicles such as a “DIS Ibero Americana project”, which promoted Germany as a venue for Latin American arbitrations being conducted in Spanish and Portuguese.) It also included the appointment of a non-German as secretary general: Francesca Mazza, who is Italian. Mazza joined from the ICC and was brought in, in part, for her international experience.

Are there any complaints?

Not really. The worst anyone will say about DIS is that it has been a little behind the times (it hadn’t updated its rules for a long time, but that’s just changed) and that it charges like the ICC but doesn’t offer the same level of input from its secretariat. DIS has taken steps to correct both.


It’s released new rules that give it more of a case management function, as well as bringing it up to speed on developments such as multiparty disputes and emergency relief.

A new body, the DIS Arbitration Council, will oversee administrative tasks that were previously delegated to tribunals.

Are there any peculiarities?

The drafters of the rules were at pains to keep what they saw as their unique Germanic character. So they preserve certain elements that are common in all-German cases – for example, the power for tribunals to appoint their own experts and discretion to encourage settlement actively from early on in the case. Crucially, those elements are now “opt in”.

There are also two authoritative versions of the rules in German and English. According to the (then) deputy secretary general James Menz at a recent GAR Live Frankfurt, DIS is the only arbitral institution to have drafted the original version of its rules in two languages so they are fully consistent in meaning.

What about German arbitrators – are they everyone’s cup of tea?

German arbitrators are first and foremost German-trained lawyers, and some do like to use a certain approach that gets referred to as “German”. As mentioned, elements of this approach are a tendency to offer – unprompted – their provisional view of the merits before the hearing has begun; and a fondness for gatekeeper issues that should be identified and then decided before any other work is done. It’s true that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But the better arbitrators are aware enough to know that, and to seek permission from the parties before they impose the German style.

What’s the secretariat like?

Users say DIS case managers compare favourably to counsel at the ICC, while noting that, historically, the DIS staff has had less of a role to play. So there is more pressure on it now the rules have shifted work from arbitrators to the DIS staff.

How quick is it?

Pretty fast. It appears that the average dispute duration, from filing to award, is around 14 months.

What kind of disputes does it see?

There’s a fair amount of post-M&A and corporate disputes – between shareholders. It also handles a fair amount of sport-related work.

How busy is it?

DIS registered 160 new cases in 2017. This is a slight dip on 172 in 2016. Its best ever year was 2011, when 174 new cases were brought.

And case value?

Just over €1 billion in 2017. The best year for value of claims was also 2011 (nearly €4 billion).


Why’s it on the white list?

It’s a venerable organisation with a strong local following that’s now seeking more international work.

How venerable?

The first arbitral rules of the FCC were adopted in 1910. The FCC as an institution started the following year.

How busy is it?

It had 79 new requests in 2017: a 23 per cent increase on 2016. A full 80% of the requests in 2017 were under the centre’s rules, rather than for administrative services.

The FCC’s best year for new cases was 80, in 2013.

How much of its work is international?

In 2017, 32 per cent of the cases had at least one foreign side. Parties from Sweden replaced the UK as the most commonly seen foreigners, followed by Norwegians, South Koreans and Germans.

What are the rules like?

Reasonably modern. They date from 2013. It also has a set of expedited rules, and guidelines on the use of secretaries, all from the same year.

What are its strengths?

It’s regarded as very efficient. On average, cases are concluded in eight months; or three, under the expedited procedure. These times are down from an average of 11 months in 2009.

It helps that the majority of cases (86 per cent in 2017) are heard by sole arbitrators.

Are there any negatives?

Some say too many ex-judges get appointed, at the expense of commercial folk. The current rules, though, give the centre greater power to reject proposals, and this may steer things in a better direction.

Is the centre seeking to become more international?

It clearly is. There’s now a rule it must have international lawyers on its board, which has led to individuals from the UK, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Estonia and Russia joining (among them Gabrielle Nater-Bass, Galina Zukova and Sophie Lamb). Their arrival also seems to have coincided with more young lawyers and more non-locals being appointed as arbitrators.

It now also runs its own Helsinki arbitration day and is part of the global effort to monitor the numbers of female arbitrators. Its figures show that in 2017, 29% of its arbitrators were women (down slightly from a high of 32% in 2015).

Who’s in charge?

Petra Kiurunen, of Lindfors & Co Attorneys, as chair; and Marko Hentunen and Mikko Kemppainen as vice chairs.


Why’s it worth a closer look?

It’s a long-established (1949) and well-thought-of general provider in a seat shaped by the presence of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the United States–Iran Claims Tribunal.

Those inter-state bodies have fostered a respect for arbitration – including supportive state courts. In fact, arbitration is so well established in the Netherlands that the NAI isn’t even the largest institution in the country; that’s the Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw in Utrecht, which handles construction disputes.

How international is the NAI?

Reasonably so. It’s fair to say it hasn’t actively sought international work; at one point it definitely viewed doing so as a management distraction.

Even so, in 2017 it received nearly 30 international cases in 2017, or around one-quarter of its total.

Is it seeking to become more international?

Not obviously. Its 300-strong arbitrator pool is still overwhelmingly Dutch.

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.

Do they contain any surprises?

Not really. The big change was a switch to full party autonomy when picking arbitrators. Previously, appointments were made using a list procedure. In theory, this switch should make it easier to appoint from the ranks of internationals, but in practice there are still some obstacles.

The new rules also forbade, for the first time, tribunals from using amiable compositeur reasoning in their decisions unless specifically permitted to by the parties. However, that provision only applies to arbitration clauses drafted after 1 January 2015 – a detail that the centre says is creating some confusion.

What are these obstacles that are still in the way of appointing internationals?

All arbitrations in the Netherlands are subject to the Dutch Arbitration Act, which contains a few Dutch quirks. One is the concept of summary arbitral proceedings. But it means literacy in nuances of Dutch arbitration law is something of a must, certainly on a difficult case. And that points usually to a local name.

How efficient is the centre at the moment?

Reasonably. Just over half (55 per cent) of 2017’s registered cases were concluded in the same year.


Why’s it white-listed?

It’s over 100 years old (established in 1917) and so experienced that the staff “just know what they are doing”, to quote one source. Though much of its work is domestic, it is equally at ease with foreign parties.

How did it reach that point?

Historically, Swedish business preferred to arbitrate in private rather than use the public courts. So the SCC was the commercial court system, in effect. A twist of fate brought it international experience.

What was that?

In the 1970s, the US and the Soviet Union needed somewhere to resolve trading disputes (despite the Cold War, the two sides traded as a matter of routine). The Soviets rejected the ICC and suggested Stockholm. The US side did some due diligence and found the average Swede was much more likely to speak English than Russian. They reasoned this gave them a potential upper hand, and went along with the Soviet suggestion. From then on, the SCC became the go-to place for East–West disputes.

Do East-West disputes still exist?

After a fashion. The Cold War may be over – or restarting – but the SCC still prides itself on its ability to handle any matter requiring extra diplomacy and neutrality. So it actively seeks work in regions such as China, Africa and the Middle East.

How busy is it?

In 2017, it had 200 new cases with a combined value of €1.5 billion. That’s a bit down on its best recent year – 203 in 2013. But its total hasn’t dropped below 170 in a decade. Around half (96) were international.

What kinds of cases?

The largest sources of work in statistics from 2017 were service and supply agreements; and business acquisition disputes.

It’s also become popular for non-ICSID administered investment treaty work. And many treaties now name it as an alternative to ICSID.

How many treaties?

Sixty provide for arbitration under the SCC rules; 61 list it as an appointing authority; and 13 list Stockholm as the seat of arbitration.

In 2016, it hosted eight investment treaty cases as a result.

Could it attract more international work than it does?

Some think so. They’d like to see it use more non-Swedes as arbitrators, and generally appoint younger people.

What are its rules like?

The SCC’s been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to rules. Its latest set, in force since 2017, pushed the envelope on summary and expedited arbitration procedures. Before that in 2010, it the first centre to offer emergency arbitrator help (including on investment cases – something the ICC, but not ICSID, has since copied).

It’s one of the few centres where emergency arbitration and expedited arbitration have both been used a respectable amount.

Are there any other reasons to seek it out?

It’s cheap and quick, at least compared to either the ICC or the LCIA. In certain jurisdictions – chiefly Russia and China – its “brand” can also help to get awards enforced.

What makes it quick?

SCC case administration is noted for its “light touch”. The rules don’t require terms of reference, and there is no formal procedure for scrutiny of awards. That, of course, puts a heavy burden on the arbitrators, who have to police their own quality. But the SCC board assists on that score by taking extra care over who gets appointed.

Who runs the show?

The current secretary general is Annette Magnusson, now something of a thought leader and global star. She runs a 14-member, full-time secretariat able to work in English, Swedish, Russian, French and German.

Is there anything else to note?

It’s not widely appreciated but Stockholm has more bespoke hearing space than nearly any other European city, since the opening of the Stockholm International Hearing Centre. See our survey on page 20.


Is it a set of rules or a centre?

It’s both: a set of rules used by several centres.

How did that come about?

In the 1990s, Swiss practitioners concluded it would be easier to promote Switzerland, internationally, if it had a single arbitration provider. But local chambers of commerce wouldn’t play ball. They all administered international cases, so stood to lose revenue.

Instead clever people proposed “the Swiss model”: a common set of rules, administered by all. The Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institution is the umbrella body that sits over all this, which maintains the rules and helps with aspects of their administration, and promotes their use internationally.

Since 2007, it has included the “Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Court”, a body of 27 practitioners that hears challenges and resolves other mid-case problems. The current Swiss rules date from 2012.

Is Switzerland still a popular seat?

Very much so. Geneva is the ICC’s third most popular place for cases, behind Paris and London. And Swiss law remains highly favourable to arbitration. It’s particularly good for appeals and requests for set aside, which must go to one particular court – the Supreme Court. This one-stop-shop in turn works extremely fast, providing results within about six months.

You don’t have to have your arbitration seated in Switzerland to use the Swiss Rules; indeed, around 3 per cent of its cases have had a non-Swiss seat.

How international is this system?

Only 2015’s statistics were available at the time of press. They show 100 new cases submitted to the institutions, of which 89 were international. On top of that the rules are now available in 13 languages, including Arabic and Chinese. So – highly international.

Looking at where parties have come from, in 2015 the bulk of the non-Swiss were from western Europe, but the centre noted with satisfaction the proportion from Asia and the Middle East seemed to be increasing.

What kind of cases does it handle?

The biggest category of work in 2015 was sale of goods contracts; followed by M&A/joint venture matters; service agreements; and then distribution/agency, banking and construction, disputes.

How fast is the SCAI?

Pretty speedy – cases on average take 14 months. It also has an expedited procedure (promising seven months to an award) and even an expedited-expedited procedure, known as the “turbo procedure”, which is a bit tricky to explain (there are four different versions depending on which options the parties pick) but that in one of its guises promises an award within six months.

How big are the disputes?

The average amount at stake is around US$15.5 million, but the biggest the SCAI has ever had is US$1.62 billion.

How up to date are the rules?

The current set were adopted in 2012. The ethos then was all about speeding up proceedings. So they introduced tighter deadlines for arbitrator challenges and deposit payments, and various other steps to ensure tribunals can get things moving speedily, sometimes on the very first day. The rules also made it possible for obstructive parties to be hit with costs.

Could they do with an update?

Debatable. In terms of substance, no. Little has been developed they don’t already contain.

But it might be helpful if the SCAI switched to charging in euros. In 2015, the euro collapsed the Swiss franc. Since then, the Swiss rules (which charge in francs), have seemed expensive by comparison (they were priced initially to undercut the ICC). A switch to euros would remove these problems. But that would require a change to the rules.

Does it have an emergency arbitrator procedure?

Yes, and its first request for emergency arbitration was in February 2014; the arbitrator managed to hand down a decision within seven days. It had three emergency filings in 2015.

Does it offer any other service?

Since 2014, the centre has been able to act as an appointing authority in ad hoc cases.

Anything else to be aware of?

If you’re an arbitrator you’re now required to report the time that has elapsed since the original filing when submitting your draft awards, to help calculate fees.

If you are planning to arbitrate within Switzerland, then be aware there is no bespoke arbitration hearing centre. You’ll have to use hotels.

Who’s in charge?

The director general, and general counsel, is Caroline Ming. She replaced Rainer Füeg on his retirement. The president of the court is Gabrielle Nater-Bass of Homburger, who took over from Philipp Habegger in November 2016. Her vice presidents are Domitille Baizeau of Lalive and Cesare Jermini of Bär & Karrer. The secretariat comprises one representative from each member-chamber throughout the country. To keep up with caseload it added three counsel in 2015–2016.

Didn’t it win a GAR Award?

Correct. It was the GAR Guide to Regional Arbitration Award for “Arbitral institution that impressed” at our awards in Milan, in 2017. The award recognised the 150 years of documented arbitration services by the member chambers and the 1,000th case under the Swiss Rules.

Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC)

Why’s it on the white list?

VIAC is a great option, especially for disputes with a connection to Germany or central Europe. It is efficient and has excellent transport connections around eastern Europe.

How busy is it?

In 2017, VIAC registered 43 new cases, bringing the total amount of pending cases to 59, totalling €622 million. In the previous year, VIAC registered 60 new cases worth a total of €1.4 billion.

How international is the work?

Completely – at least so far. That’s because until very recently VIAC was only able to hear international disputes, by law; international means one side is non-Austrian. So the 1,600 cases that it has now heard in its lifetime were pretty much all international.

The law did recently change (mid 2017) so VIAC can now attract domestic disputes. But it will be a while before it has an abundance of those.

Where do the arbitrators come from?

Usually from Austria. In 2017, two-thirds of the arbitrators appointed were Austrian. The remainder were from Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine.

What’s new?

VIAC gained the power to accept domestic disputes, which then required an adjustment to its rules. It has also joined the ranks of institutions publishing names of tribunals, and reporting the split of male and female arbitrators in its cases. In 2017, 17 per cent of VIAC arbitrators were women. The majority of those were appointed by VIAC. Only two of the 17 arbitrators that parties appointed were women (this is no worse than other institutions in its defence).

More recently, Alice Fremuth-Wolf, VIAC’s popular deputy secretary general, was promoted to secretary general, and Elisabeth Vanas-Metzler joined to be her deputy.

Anything else to know?

VIAC can supply excellent hearing rooms and related services.

Who runs it?

As well as Fremuth-Wolf and Vanas-Metzler, there is Günther Horvath, who is president of the VIAC board. The team also have the benefit of an international advisory board, which includes such names such as James Castello and Stefano Azzali.

In 2017, Fremuth-Wolf co-chaired GAR Live Vienna.

Worth a Closer Look

Western Europe also has some newer institutions with features that may make them a good fit for a particular case. Here’s our selection.


Why’s it worth a closer look?

It’s Belgium’s largest centre, and will be celebrating its 50th birthday in 2019. It has the support of a substantial cadre of local practitioners, including Guy Keutgen, a former CEPANI president, who chaired the committee that recently revised Belgian Arbitration Act.

Another member of the drafting committee, Dirk De Meulemeester, is the current CEPANI president. De Meulemeester was given a second three-year term in 2017.

What are the rules like?

They contain most of the expected elements, including provisions on multiple parties, multiple contracts and interim measures. There’s also a set of “light” rules for sub-€25,000 matters.

What’s Belgium like as a seat?

It used to be a bit of an oddity – the only seat where courts had no power to vacate arbitral awards. This was by design. It was hoped such a radical light-touch approach would attract users from around the world. But by 1998, it had become clear the experiment had failed and a new law was adopted. The new law didn’t do much better though (it wasn’t Model Law and probably went too far in the opposite direction – allowing lots of court review). So in 2013 it was revised again and Belgium is now essentially Model Law.

What sorts of cases go to CEPANI?

A sizeable portion of the centre’s cases are lower value: 62% of the requests filed in 2017 were for sums of less than €625,000. But cases worth between €2.5 million and €12.5 million also made up 19% of the caseload – so there are signs of life.

How busy is it?

The centre hasn’t actually issued figures for new cases in 2017. Extrapolating from other data (such as the number of parties from different nations who appeared there) suggests CEPANI receives around 16 requests a year.

Are there any things to beware of?

It’s said that the secretariat isn’t always great on international matters – there are stories of staff sending invoices in the wrong language, etc. And CEPANI’s panel of arbitrators is heavily dominated by Belgians. But nevertheless it has its fans.


Why’s it worth a closer look?

The CEA was founded in 1981, meaning it’s experienced. And by dint of its connections to local and regional chambers of commerce, it’s popular with Spanish businesses.

Why isn’t it on the white list?

It hasn’t realised its full potential when it comes to international work. The Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid, its great rival, is far better at attracting foreign parties.

Is the CEA keen to become international?

It appears to be. In 2017, the court appointed Manuel Conthe as its president, who is a well-known international arbitrator. It has also hosted various events featuring Spanish arbitration practitioners and judges intended to raise Spain’s profile as a seat. And its model clause is now available in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Japanese. Its rules though are only available in English or Spanish.

And there is now talk of a merger.

What sort of merger?

Between the CEA and some of Spain’s other leading bodies, intended to improve their ability to attract work to Spain.

Will it achieve that?

Very possibly. Many think that Spain has been held back as a seat by having too many reasonably successful independent arbitral bodies. A few years ago, the bar attempted to overcome this by copying the Swiss approach, and finding a way to present a united front. They founded “the Spanish Arbitration Club”, to help market Spain as a seat to the world. But they stopped short of having all the centres adopt a common set of rules.

It doesn’t seem to have worked, and now three centres are thinking of merging.

Which ones?

The CEA, the Corte de Arbitrage (of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce) and the Civil and Commercial Court of Arbitration. They’ve signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a merger. Whether it succeeds – who knows. But the idea isn’t likely to go away.

What are the CEA’s current rules like?

They were adopted in 2010, revised again in 2011. They 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’s fast.

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.


What is it?

A not-for-profit association of arbitration practitioners, established to promote Paris, rather than the ICC.

Why’s it in a book that focuses on centres?

In 2013, it published its own rules, which don’t require any centre to administer them. They’re for use in ad hoc cases as an alternative to the UNCITRAL rules.

How are they different to the UNCITRAL rules?

The rules are incredibly short, and deliberately so: 12 articles spread across 23 pages. They’re intended to appeal to experienced arbitrators capable of taking a common-sense approach.

Are there any other innovations in there?

The rules allow parties to appoint an interim arbitrator ahead of the appointment of the tribunal. He or she is granted the same broad powers as the tribunal itself, including the ability to grant interim relief in response to joint or ex parte applications.

Who acts as appointing authority?

The secretary general of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague is designated as the appointing authority for emergency arbitrators, replacement arbitrators and sole arbitrators, and for cases where the parties have failed to appoint. The PCA is also responsible for deciding challenges to arbitrators and determining how to compensate the tribunal where the parties have failed to agree on this.

Does the association have a figurehead?

Elie Kleiman of Jones Day leads the board after replacing Charles Kaplan as the association’s president. The honorary presidents are Jean-Pierre Ancel and Yves Derains. The rules were written by Philippe Pinsolle and Michael Polkinghorne plus a small drafting group.


Why’s it worth a closer look?

The Scottish Arbitration Centre offers an alternative within the UK not governed by the English Arbitration Act. It’s now seven years old and has done a fabulous job of promoting itself internationally.

What’s it done?

Very sensibly, it’s leveraged Scotland’s links to the energy industry by releasing energy arbitration rules in collaboration with the University of Dundee (home to an energy and mineral law centre). The centre’s chairman, Brandon Malone, and chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, have become well known around the globe, attending a significant number of the most important international arbitration meetings, including the occasional GAR Live.

Does it have any natural advantages, besides its links to the energy industry?

It has its own arbitration act, the Scottish Arbitration Act (Scotland is a separate legal system within the UK). It’s also a lot cheaper to locate a case in Scotland – the centre’s estimate is that it can save you 40 per cent of the organisational costs.

How do the two “Arbitration Acts” compare?

They’re as different as chalk and cheese on many points. The writers of the Scottish Arbitration Act are on record as saying theirs is far superior, and includes all sorts of details that users are crying out for, such as more rigid rules on confidentiality and anonymity.

What does the future hold?

Scotland will host the ICCA’s congress in 2020 in Edinburgh – in no small part down to the efforts of the centre. The centre, which has recently announced its commitment to gender diversity, says that 30% of its ICCA bid panel was composed of women and that 50% of its ad hoc arbitrator appointments have been women.

The centre could also benefit from Brexit. More concretely, it has created a “court user group” to enable members of the arbitration bar in Scotland and judges who hear arbitration matters to discuss topical issues. Only two similar groups exist within the Scottish court system, showing how the courts are “ensuring its approach to arbitration remains supportive,” says Mackenzie.