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Arbitral proceedings

Starting an arbitration proceeding
What is needed to commence arbitration?

Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral proceedings will commence on the date on which the request for the dispute to be referred to arbitration is received by the respondent.

Limitation periods
Are there any limitation periods for the commencement of arbitration?

No limitation periods exist in regard to the commencement of arbitration, unless provided for in the arbitration agreement.

If the governing law of the arbitration is Bahraini law, the usual limitation periods applicable to legal proceedings will apply. If the contract is governed by a foreign law, the limitation periods of that law will apply.

Procedural rules
Are there any procedural rules that arbitrators must follow?

Arbitrators must abide by the procedural rules agreed on by the parties, including the arbitration rules under which the arbitral tribunal must conduct the case. The arbitral tribunal remains subject to the general duties under the UNCITRAL Model Law, including the obligation to treat the parties equally and give each party a full opportunity to present its case.

Dissenting arbitrators
Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction?

In arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, tribunal decisions must be made by a majority, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

The majority principle also applies to the signing of the award. Further, if a minority of the arbitral tribunal dissents, reason(s) must be provided for any omitted signature(s).

Judicial assistance
Can local courts intervene in proceedings?

On request by one of the parties, local courts may intervene in arbitral proceedings in relation to:

  • the appointment, challenge or termination of an arbitrator;
  • the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal;
  • the setting aside of an arbitral award;
  • assistance in taking evidence or recognition of an arbitration agreement (including its compatibility with court-ordered interim measures);
  • court-ordered interim measures; or
  • the recognition and enforcement of interim measures and arbitral awards.

Can the local courts assist in choosing arbitrators?

Where the appointment of the arbitral tribunal cannot be agreed, any party may apply to the Civil High Court for assistance.

What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration? Can the courts compel parties to arbitrate? Can they issue subpoenas to third parties?

Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the following apply:

  • If the claimant fails to communicate its statement of claim, the arbitral tribunal will terminate the proceedings.
  • If the respondent fails to communicate its statement of defence, the arbitral tribunal will continue the proceedings without treating such failure in itself as an admission of the claimant’s allegations.
  • If any party fails to appear at a hearing or produce documentary evidence, the arbitral tribunal may continue the proceedings and make an award based on the evidence before it.

The arbitral tribunal, or a party with the approval of the arbitral tribunal, may request the Civil High Court’s assistance in taking evidence. The court will execute the request according to its rules on taking evidence.

Third parties
In what instances can third parties be bound by an arbitration agreement or award?

An arbitration agreement or award will be binding only on the parties.

Default language and seat
Unless agreed by the parties, what is the default language and location for arbitrations?

There is no default language or location for arbitrations. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the arbitral tribunal will determine the language to be used in the proceedings and the location of the arbitration, having regard to the circumstances of the case, including the convenience of the parties.

Gathering evidence
How is evidence obtained by the tribunal?

Subject to any contrary agreement between the parties, the arbitral tribunal has broad discretion regarding how evidence is obtained. The arbitral tribunal will decide whether to hold oral hearings for the presentation of evidence or for oral argument, or whether the proceedings should be conducted on the basis of documents and other materials. The tribunal also has the power to appoint experts.

What kinds of evidence are acceptable?

Subject to any contrary agreement between the parties, the arbitral tribunal has broad discretion in deciding what kind of evidence is acceptable, including the power to determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of any evidence.

Confidentiality
Is confidentiality ensured?

Bahraini law contains no express provision regarding the confidentiality of arbitral proceedings. This will be a matter for the parties to agree on or, in the absence of any agreement, for the tribunal to decide.

Can information in arbitral proceedings be disclosed in subsequent proceedings?

This will be a matter for the parties to agree on or, in the absence of any agreement, for the tribunal to decide.

Ethical codes
What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?

Apart from the general requirements that the arbitral tribunal be independent, impartial and act fairly, there are no express ethical codes or other professional standards with which counsel and arbitrators must comply under Bahraini law.

The parties are free to decide on what, if any, standards will apply either by express choice (eg, the International Bar Association’s Guidelines on Party Representation in International Arbitration) or by implication (eg, by appointing a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as the arbitrator, as he or she will be governed by that institution’s code of professional and ethical conduct).

Certain arbitration rules (eg, the London Court of International Arbitration Rules 2014) include requirements relating to conduct that will apply to all arbitrations conducted thereunder.