LCIA INTRODUCES NEW ARBITRATION RULES
On 11 August, 2020 the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) published the new Arbitration Rules and Mediation Rules (2020 Rules). The 2020 Rules will come into effect from 1 October, 2020. The updates adopted by the LCIA Court and the LCIA Board of Directors aim to make the arbitral and mediation processes even more streamlined and clear for arbitrators, mediators and parties alike.
The arbitration and mediation rules have been updated to promote virtual arbitration and mediation. The New Rules govern virtual hearings and electronic communication, which have been prompted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main aim of the amendment was to modernise the 2014 LCIA Arbitration Rules. The significant amendments are as follows:
- Power to make early determination- The Rules aim to expediate the arbitral proceedings. The arbitral tribunals will be provided additional tools for the same. The 2020 Rules empower the arbitrator to determine the procedure that has to be followed at each stage of the arbitration. The arbitral tribunal also has the discretion to decide, that during which stage of the proceedings the issues have to be determined. The tribunal is also empowered to decide that whether the claims are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal or without merit. In such cases, the arbitration tribunal will have the power to make an appropriate award, which is known as an ‘Early Determination.’
- Electronically signed awards- The 2020 Rules states that the arbitral award should be signed electronically. The 2014 Rules mandated that the arbitral awards must be notified to the Tribunal via post, courier or personal delivery. However, the 2020 Rules state that electronic communication of arbitral awards shall be the preliminary method.
- Tribunal Secretary- The 2020 Rules provide for the appointment of a tribunal secretary. The role of the tribunal secretary is to assist the arbitral tribunal in performing certain functions. The tribunal secretary shall be appointed only if the disputants approve for the same. The tasks assigned to the tribunal secretary must be specified by the parties before the commencement of the arbitration proceedings.
- Power to order consolidation and concurrent conduct of arbitrations- The 2014 Rules provided for consolidation of arbitrations only if the parties consent for the same. But the 2020 Rules, empower the arbitral tribunals to conduct consolidated arbitration where the disputes arise under compatible arbitration agreements and relate to the same transaction or series of transactions.
- Virtual Hearings- The number of remote hearings has increased in the recent months due to the global pandemic. Keeping this in mind, the 2020 Rules provide legitimacy to proceedings that are conducted through video conference, conference call or other communication technology.
- Maximum hourly rate for arbitrators- The maximum hourly rate of arbitrators has been increased from €450 to €500. But the LCIA does not prescribe a fee range for arbitrators based on the value of the dispute.
The major amendments have been made with a view to make the arbitration proceedings more efficient. The virtual hearings have been promoted because they are more cost- effective and environment friendly.