Following a trend among the leading international arbitral institutions of making rule changes to reflect the latest developments in international arbitral practice and procedure, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), one of the world’s leading international arbitral institutions, has issued an updated set of procedural rules for LCIA-administered arbitrations. The updated rules replace the LCIA’s previous rules, which had been in force since 1998, and will apply to all arbitrations filed with the LCIA after October 1, 2014, unless the parties have otherwise agreed.

While the LCIA administers arbitrations globally, parties doing business in Africa will want to take note of the rule changes as approximately 10 percent of arbitrations referred to the LCIA last year involved parties from the continent, suggesting that contracts involving deals in Africa invoke LCIA arbitration with some degree of frequency.

The rule changes include updated provisions on a variety of aspects of the arbitral process, including the power of arbitral tribunals to regulate parties’ legal representatives and their conduct, emergency arbitrators, arbitrator availability, communications with tribunals, the law applicable to arbitration agreements, consolidation of arbitrations, costs, efficiency of arbitral proceedings, and other matters.

The new provisions on the ability of tribunals to regulate parties’ legal representatives and their conduct are of particular note. Under Article 18.3 of the new rules, once the arbitral tribunal is formed, any changes that a party seeks to make to the constitution of its legal representatives “shall only take effect in the arbitration subject to the approval of the Arbitral Tribunal.”

Further, under Article 18.5, the parties must ensure that their legal representatives in the arbitration have agreed to comply with the General Guidelines for the Parties’ Representatives, which is set forth as an annex to the new rules. If an arbitral tribunal determines that a legal representative has violated the guidelines, the tribunal may sanction the legal representative through a written reprimand, a written caution against future conduct in the proceedings, or “any other measure necessary to fulfil within the arbitration the general duties required of the Arbitral Tribunal.”

The updated rules represent evolution rather than revolution and are unlikely to alter fundamentally the character of LCIA arbitrations. Provisions like a new emergency arbitrator mechanism and various rules designed to improve the efficiency of LCIA arbitrations bring the LCIA rules into line with contemporary arbitration practice. At the same time, the LCIA has retained the distinctiveness of its rules with innovative new procedures like the rules on conduct of legal representatives. The changes should ensure that the LCIA remains among the most popular for users of international arbitration and may further increase the efficiency of proceedings, which is to be welcomed.