New LCIA arbitration rules will "definitely include an emergency arbitrator procedure", says president

Out-Law News | 02 Jun 2014 | 4:46 pm | 1 min. read

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) will include provision for emergency arbitrations in the latest version of its rules, anticipated to come into force in October, the president of the institution has said.

The provisions in relation to emergency arbitrations were the only part of a recently-published draft update to the rules to be enclosed in square brackets, indicating that they may not have had total support. However, in an interview with Global Arbitration Review last week, LCIA president William Park said that the final version would "definitely include" emergency arbitrator provisions, although the wording was not yet finalised (registration required).

Arbitration expert Alistair Calvert of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said previously that the proposed provisions were useful and would help London compete with other major international arbitration centres such as Paris and Singapore.

"Under the proposed changes a party may apply for the appointment of an Emergency Arbitrator in circumstances of 'exceptional urgency' and on a 'temporary' basis," he said. "The Emergency Arbitrator will decide claims for emergency relief, such as an order freezing assets or preserving documents, no later than 20 days following the appointment. The Emergency Arbitrator is not required to hold any hearing with the parties and may decide the claim for emergency relief on any available documentation."

"Emergency relief is often needed when one party appears to be moving assets out of the jurisdiction so that they would not be available if the case went against them, or when one party appears to be destroying documents. Emergency Arbitrators are most commonly asked to freeze assets or issue document preservation orders," he said.

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.

The LCIA published its proposed updated rules for discussion in February. They are anticipated to come into force in October and would replace the existing 1998 version of the rules. According to Park, the draft was the subject of "extensive discussion" at a meeting of the LCIA Court earlier this month and has now been "approved in principle", subject to some small changes and final sign-off by the LCIA board.

Among other changes to the existing rules included in the draft are new guidelines for the parties' legal representatives; provisions to deal with multi-party arbitrations; and more emphasis on the arbitral tribunal's duty to conduct proceedings "expeditiously".