The LCIA has released its 'final draft' of the new LCIA Arbitration Rules for the arbitration community to examine the likely changes. The LCIA Rules have not substantially changed since 1998 and this revamp is intended to bring the LCIA Rules up to date with current arbitration practices. Many arbitration institutions have already updated their rules and to an extent the LCIA is therefore following suit. The new LCIA Rules are likely to come into use at sometime this summer.
The new Rules commonly reduce the amounts of time for parties to follow the steps of the arbitration procedure. These changes mostly reduce 30-day deadlines to 28 days, such as the time available for the issuing of a response. These changes are clearly intended to expedite the arbitration process. In a similar vein, the declaration to be provided by a candidate for the arbitral tribunal includes confirmation by the candidate that he/she is 'ready, willing and able to devote time, diligence and industry to ensure the expeditious conduct of the arbitration' (art 5.4). This statement ensures that the candidate will consider his/her availability before accepting any nomination.
Article 14.1 now requires the parties and the tribunal to meet to discuss the conduct of the proceedings within 21 days of the tribunal being appointed and the arbitral tribunal now has to issue its award 'as soon as reasonably possible'. The tribunal should set a timetable for this process. Overall the hope is that the arbitration process can be sped up and the parties can have certainty over the timing of the award process.
Under art 5.8 of the new Rules, the LCIA court can appoint more than three arbitrators to the tribunal, in exceptional circumstances.
The new Rules also include the possibility of applying for the emergency appointment of an arbitrator, who will always be a sole arbitrator and who will have to make a decision within 20 days. The LCIA Rules also include a process for the urgent formation of a tribunal, so it is unclear how useful this additional process will be.
The new Rules clarify that the default seat (London) can be changed once the arbitral tribunal has been formed, after written submissions from the parties. Article 16.4 seeks to clarify an issue considered by the courts, by stating that the law of the arbitration shall be that of the seat of the arbitration unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
The new Rules also seek to ensure that the parties and their legal representatives observe good conduct throughout the arbitration. In particular, the duties which now apply to legal representatives include: no unmeritorious or unfounded challenges; no false statements to the tribunal; no procurement of false evidence; and no concealment of documents the tribunal has ordered to be disclosed. It is not yet clear what sanctions will be available to the tribunal for a breach of any of these conduct rules.
The new Rules also contain amendments to keep parties in line. These include a 14-day deadline for a party to challenge the formation of a tribunal, the prohibition of direct unilateral contact with the tribunal and the power for the tribunal to take into account any conduct by a party when awarding costs.
Overall, the amendments are being welcomed as they are likely to improve the efficiency and conduct of LCIA arbitrations, and to an extent reflect how practitioners and parties have come to operate the Rules in practice.