Introduction: The Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution (SCAI) became the Swiss Arbitration Centre (the Centre) on June 1, 2021, and the new Swiss Arbitration Rules went into effect (the 2021 Swiss Rules). More comprehensive rules on multi-party and multi-contract procedures, as well as a number of other minor adjustments, have been made to expedite and modernise the proceedings while reinforcing the institution's function. A number of adjustments have also been made to the Swiss Rules' vocabulary and structure to make them easier to apply in reality.
Swiss Arbitration Centre: In 2012, SCAI was established as a not-for-profit organization to handle arbitration under Swiss Rules. But from June 1, 2021, onwards, SCAI has become the Swiss Arbitration Centre. The Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) and the Swiss Chambers of Commerce that participate in SCAI are the Centre's shareholders. The Centre's Board of Directors comprises four members appointed by ASA and three members assigned by the Chambers of Commerce. Despite this institutional shift, arbitration clauses relating to SCAI are still legal and binding, and the Swiss Arbitration Centre will recognize them. As a result, all users are now encouraged to include the "Swiss Rules of International Arbitration of the Swiss Arbitration Centre" in any contract signed after June 1, 2021.
Swiss Rules, 2021: New rules in the Swiss Rules for 2021 make it easier to handle arbitration procedures online. Consider the following example:
- According to Articles 3(1) and 4(1) of the Swiss Rules of 2021, paperless filings are the new standard, whereas hard copies are only necessary for specific instances.
- Any hearing may be held "remotely by videoconference or other appropriate methods," according to Article 27(2) of the Swiss Rules of 2021. On this issue, it's worth noting that, unlike other arbitration rules, the 2012 Swiss Rules' Article 25(4) previously mentioned videoconferencing in the context of witness examination.
- The parties and the tribunal must now consider cybersecurity problems at an early stage of the proceedings, according to Article 19(2) of the 2021 Swiss Rules. This clause was a much-needed clarification since the onset of the epidemic and the growth of remote hearings.
- Enhanced standards for arbitrators' independence and impartiality, as well as associated disclosures (Article 12 2021 Swiss Rules), and the nomination of a tribunal's secretary (Article 16(3) 2021 Swiss Rules) are among the additional modifications to modernize arbitration procedures.
- The ability for a tribunal to “oppose the appointment of a new representative where doing so would endanger the arbitral tribunal's impartiality or independence” (Article 16(4) 2021 Swiss Rules), as well as the newly-introduced requirement for the tribunal to hold a case management conference “as soon as practicable after receiving the file from the Secretariat” (Article 19(2) 2021 Swiss Rules).
The Swiss Rules of Arbitration for 2021 include additional, comprehensive rules on cross-claims, joinder, and intervention to handle the growing number of multi-party and multi-contract arbitrations. Article 6 of the Swiss Rules of 2021, which addresses scenarios where, for example, a respondent asserts claims against another co-respondent (cross-claim) or an additional party (joinder), or where a different party seeks to intervene in the proceedings by asserting claims against an existing party (intervention), shall do so by submitting a notice of claim to the Secretariat or if already constituted then to Arbitral Tribunal.
Article 7(1) of the Swiss Rules of Arbitration for 2021 explicitly allows a party to request the consolidation of arbitration proceedings. The 2012 Rules (Article 8 (4)) imposed a 30-day deadline for claimants to nominate an arbitrator and a 30-day deadline for respondents to do so, which is eliminated in the 2021 Swiss Rules and merely provides a 30-day time limit both claimant and respondent to appoint an arbitrator.
A unique provision in Article 19(6) of the 2021 Swiss Rules states that the parties may choose to resolve their disagreement through mediation at any point throughout the arbitration procedures, and the arbitration will be stopped for that time unless the parties agree otherwise. The Swiss Rules for 2021 include several changes to administrative charges and the arbitrators' minimum and maximum fees, which are determined depending on the amount in dispute.
Conclusion: The ongoing collaboration between SCAI and ASA Institutions under the Swiss Arbitration Centre holds many promises for Switzerland's growth as a worldwide arbitration center. The Swiss Rules of 2021 will improve the efficiency of any arbitration procedures while preserving the autonomy, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of the parties. In this sense, the Swiss Rules of 2021 send a message of consistency with an alternative conflict resolution method that has shown to be highly influential over many years of use.
(This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, or Religion, Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, White Code VIA Mediation and Arbitration Centre Foundation shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.)