First new LCIA arbitration rules in over 15 years come into force in October

Out-Law News | 29 Jul 2014 | 10:33 am | 2 min. read

New rules governing London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) arbitrations will take effect in October, including provisions for an emergency arbitration process and guidelines on the conduct of parties' legal representatives.

The new rules revise and update the previous version of the LCIA's rules, which came into force in 1998. They follow a "meticulous and thoughtful drafting process", and will be introduced at a series of events throughout the international arbitration community, according to Dr Jacomijn van Haersolte-van Hof, the LCIA's new director general.

International arbitration expert John Gilbert of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that the final rules were worth careful scrutiny.

"Although the new LCIA rules seem very similar to the previous version, they are worth careful review because the amendment process has been thorough and very few of the articles have avoided change," he said.

"The key additions reflect issues which have been widely debated in recent years in the arbitration community including the consolidation of arbitrations, an emergency arbitrator process and guidelines on the conduct of counsel. It will be interesting to see how much those new articles will be used once they come into force in October," he said.

Arbitration is a system of formal dispute resolution for a final and binding decision from a neutral arbitral tribunal. It is often used as the primary means of dispute resolution by global businesses, including in disputes with sovereign states, as it is seen as more likely to be free from political interference and it allows for greater confidentiality and flexibility than open courts.

According to the LCIA registrar's latest report, the number of domestic and international arbitrations referred to the LCIA rose to 290 in 2013; the highest number in its history and an almost 10% increase on the 277 cases referred in 2012. Although parties from the UK still account for almost 20% of all arbitrations referred to the LCIA, there is a strong international aspect to its caseload reflecting the often global nature of arbitration as a means of dispute resolution.

The new rules have been the subject of extensive discussion by the LCIA Court since their publication in draft form in February. Of particular interest have been the provisions in relation to emergency arbitration, agreement on which was not reached until last month. Most of the world's leading arbitration centres including the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre already include some sort of emergency arbitrator provisions in their rules.

Among other changes to the existing rules included in the 2014 version are provisions to deal with multi-arbitrations and more emphasis on the arbitral tribunal's duty to conduct proceedings "expeditiously". A further important change is the inclusion of new guidelines for the parties' legal representatives as an annex to the 2014 rules, which is backed by a new requirement on each party to ensure that its representatives comply with the guidelines and a mechanism through which complaints in relation to alleged breaches of the guidelines may be resolved.