South Korea has been ranked as the most efficient and cost-effective country in judicial proceedings in a recent survey conducted by the World Bank Group, covering arbitrational procedures. Although the history indicates the lack of practical usage of domestic arbitration, the country does heavily participate in various international commercial arbitrations, which has helped them develop a holistic awareness of arbitrational laws and added to their efficiency on the said subject matter.
Background of Korean Arbitration
The Korean Arbitration Act (KAA) was first enacted in 1966. It was later amended in 1999 to comply and incorporate features of the Model Law (UNCITRAL). In a more recent development, the Korean legislation made additional amendments to the Act. It focused on changing the features to suit the current arbitration trends while staying in line with the Model Law.
The Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (the KCAB) is the only body of authority that deals with purely arbitrational cases in South Korea. However, Korea's Government has established other organisations like the Seoul Maritime Arbitrators Association (SMAA) and the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre (SIDC) to target authoritative bodies for issues like maritime arbitrations general ADR proceedings in the country.
Critical Points of Korean Arbitrational Operation
- The KAA is one of the very few arbitrational legislations that follows the UNCITRAL Model very closely and purely.
- South Korea does not limit the application of the KAA to just domestic cases. Additionally, the country aims to use the Act as umbrella legislation for both kinds of arbitrational issues.
- South Korean Court can only enforce interim measures if arbitration proceedings originate in the country itself.
- Among the other provisions related to arbitration applicable in countries that follow the UNCITRAL model, South Korea has only ruled out criminal law, administrative law, and family law-related disputes as unarbitrable, barring no limitations on arbitration arbitrability of conflicts in the country.
- While South Korea follows the statute of limitations for civil and criminal cases, the statute of limitations for commercial arbitration is the only one mentioned under the umbrella of arbitration in the country. Still, no express provision is in place stating a specific statute of limitation for arbitration cases.
While South Korea has not been very popular regarding arbitration operations, the last five years had shown a stark emergence of arbitration on domestic as well as international disputes within the country, so much so that South Korea is developing as a global arbitration hub, more so because of the boom in their international trades and transactions When looked as in detail, the country has a very systematic approach to arbitration which does not dabble in gross ambiguities.
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