By Danielle O'Brien, Associate
The DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre has officially released updated Mediation and Arbitration Rules.
The amendments introduced by the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre in 2021 (the “2021 Rules”) introduce a number of important changes to the 2016 Rules. Some of the most relevant changes are outlined below.
Electronic Communication & Electronically Signed Awards
Throughout the 2021 Rules, any reference to submissions has been altered to electronic filing.
Article 1.3, for example, now requires a claimant to file its RFA electronically, as opposed to filing physical copies with the DIFC-LCIA Centre. The 2021 Rules further state that permission should be sought to serve submissions via alternative means (See Article 4.1).
Additional Tools for Expedited Proceedings
The 2021 Rules have expanded upon the provisions pertaining to emergency arbitrators (Article 9). Article 9.12 permits an emergency arbitrator to confirm, vary, discharge or revoke, in whole or in part, any order of the Emergency Arbitrator, correct any errors (whether typographical or in computation) or to make additional orders before the arbitral tribunal is formed.
Notably, the 2021 Rules now include Article 14A, which is dedicated to determining the role and scope of Tribunal Secretaries, including specifically stating that “[u]nder no circumstances may an Arbitral Tribunal delegate its decision-making function to a tribunal secretary.”
It is important to note that a tribunal secretary may only be appointed upon receiving approval from all parties and the 2021 Rules mandate a tribunal secretary to sign a written declaration confirming his/her independence and impartiality and that they are willing and able to devote sufficient time and diligence to ensure the expeditious and efficient conduct of the proceedings.
Refinement and expansion of the provisions for virtual hearings
Article 19 of the 2021 Rules not only permit, but expand upon the applicability of virtual, or videoconference hearings. The 2021 Rules further state that a hybrid hearing may take place where the parties are in one or more geographical locations.
LCIA Court & Tribunal powers
Article 22A of the 2021 Rules expands upon the Arbitral Tribunal’s powers and ability to order the consolidation or concurrent conduct of arbitrations.
The updated Rules can be downloaded from DIFC-LCIA website (www.difc-lcia.org).