Founded in 1966, the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) is the sole arbitral institution in Korea that is statutorily authorised to settle disputes under the Korean Arbitration Act. Over the past 50 years, the KCAB has handled more than 7,000 arbitration cases and 15,000 conciliation cases, marking itself as a leading alternative dispute resolution centre.
In recent years, the KCAB has managed approximately 400 cases per year, with the majority of disputes referred to it coming from the construction, IT and commercial transaction sectors. In 2020, the total sum of the disputes referred to KCAB arbitration was over US$540 million.
International disputes are handled by KCAB INTERNATIONAL, an independent division within the KCAB dedicated to managing cross-border disputes brought under the KCAB International Arbitration Rules and promoting Korea as a seat of arbitration.
The KCAB International Arbitration Rules were adopted in 2011 and updated in 2016. In 2017, as part of a continued effort to foster arbitration in the country, the Korean government enacted the Arbitration Industry Promotion Act. The Act includes provisions to expand dispute resolution facilities, cultivate experts and professionals in the area of arbitration and support relevant research and developments. This government support forms the basis for systematic promotion of arbitration in Korea.
The Korean government’s efforts laid the foundations for the establishment of a new, international division of the KCAB. The creation of KCAB INTERNATIONAL represents a defining moment of the ongoing efforts to promote international arbitration in Korea.
KCAB INTERNATIONAL was established on 20 April 2018 to meet the growing demand for cross-border commercial dispute resolution. It has primary responsibility for administering “international arbitration” (ie, arbitration where at least one of the parties has its place of business in a state other than Korea, or where the place of arbitration is a state other than Korea).
Additionally, the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center (SIDRC), opened in 2013 and consolidated into the KCAB in 2018, offers modern hearing facilities using the latest multimedia screen technology. SIDRC hearing facilities are available for hearings of international arbitration cases administered by arbitral institutions that have cooperation agreements with the KCAB, including AAA-ICDR, AABD, CIETAC, HKIAC, ICC, ICSID, LCIA, PCA, SHIAC, SIAC, SIMC and WIPO.
KCAB INTERNATIONAL specialises in administering international arbitration cases to ensure that disputes are resolved in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner within a streamlined process. Cases are typically closed within 12 months. Having enlisted leading experts and professionals with abundant experience and expertise in international dispute resolution, KCAB INTERNATIONAL aims to further enhance the standing of Korea as a premier international dispute resolution centre in Asia and beyond. In addition, an international arbitration committee, comprising many well-known figures in the field worldwide, has been established to consult on issues relating to the appointment, challenge, replacement and removal of arbitrators by KCAB INTERNATIONAL.
KCAB INTERNATIONAL is composed of diverse and internationally qualified staff, from a mixture of legal and business backgrounds. The international arbitration team administers arbitration cases and ensures the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the procedures under the KCAB Rules. The international cooperation team engages in numerous promotional activities, informing both domestic and international arbitration users on arbitration and KCAB INTERNATIONAL’s procedures and further enhancing KCAB INTERNATIONAL’s standing.
KCAB INTERNATIONAL’s efforts include educational services to the arbitration community for the promotion of arbitration, from co-hosting the FDI International Investment Arbitration Moot’s annual Asia-Pacific round to organising its flagship event, the Seoul ADR Festival and the annual Seoul Academy for International Arbitration. KCAB INTERNATIONAL also led the creation of KCAB Next, an organisation tasked with aiding the next generation of arbitrators, leaders and practitioners with a nexus to Korea in developing their career and skills.