On 3 February 2017, the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) officially released the new 2017 VIAC Arbitration Rules (VIAC Rules 2017), which is scheduled to come into effect on 1 March 2017. Compared to the current Rules of Arbitration of VIAC which has been in force from 1 January 2012, the VIAC Rules 2017 aim at ironing out concerns during the arbitration procedures while further adapting to the international norms in order to better promote arbitration as a alternative dispute resolution mechanism in Vietnam.

A brief summary of the notable changes to the VIAC Rules 2017 are below:

First, the VIAC Rules 2017 introduced three (3) new provisions:

  • Article 6 (Single Arbitration for Multiple Contracts) Instead of having to file a number of applications corresponding to multiple contracts and having them resolved as multiple cases at VIAC, the Claimant may now file a single Request for Arbitration to include claims arising out of or in connection with multiple contracts and have them resolved through a single arbitration.
  • Article 15 (Consolidation of Claims) The Arbitral Tribunal may, at the request of a party, consolidate claims made in separate but pending arbitrations into a single arbitration with the earliest commencement date. VIAC shall grant/deny such request upon consideration of all relevant factors.
  • Article 37 (Expedited Procedure) Subject to the parties' agreement, the arbitral proceedings may be conducted in accordance with the Expedited Procedure. The Arbitral Tribunal shall consist of a sole Arbitrator (unless otherwise agreed by the parties), and VIAC or the Arbitral Tribunal may shorten any time period provided under the VIAC Rules 2017. Further, the Arbitral Tribunal may resolve the dispute based on the presented evidence and documents without the parties' presence (unless objected by one party).

Second, in addition to the new innovative provisions above, the VIAC Rules 2017 made general amendments to a number of issues, including filing and withdrawing of the Statement of Defence and Counterclaim, constitution of an of Arbitral Tribunal comprising of one (1) or three (3) Arbitrators, general provision in respect of Arbitrators, replacement of Arbitrators, and use of telephone and video conference for hearings.

Last but not least, the VIAC Rules 2017 provide the parties with more freedom to negotiate. This can be seen by the incorporation of "unless otherwise agreed by the parties" into many Articles, including Article 5 (Commencement of Arbitral Proceedings) and Article 12 (Constitution of an Arbitral Tribunal Comprising of Three Arbitrators).

We look forward to seeing how these changes will impact the arbitration infrastructure in Vietnam.