The Shanghai International Arbitration Center (“SHIAC”), one of the leading arbitral institutions in the PRC, has launched new rules which will come into effect from 1 January 2024.

Key changes include new provisions for emergency arbitration (Article 25), single arbitration under multiple contracts (Article 15), disclosure of funding arrangements (Article 35.3), publication of desensitised and anonymised awards with party consent (Article 11), and “online” arbitration using the SHIAC “E-Platform” (Article 10).

There are also expanded provisions on joinder (Article 41), “off-panel” appointment of arbitrators (Articles 31 and 32), and arbitrator disclosures (Article 35), including a new reference to the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration. The summary procedure (Articles 69-76) has also been revised in order to increase the value of claims to which it will apply and shorten various time limits.

The new rules draw upon the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Arbitration Rules (“FTZ Rules“), which were first released by SHIAC in 2014 as a pioneering set of rules that introduced a number of innovative features. The incorporation of those innovations into the new SHIAC Rules underlines the success of the FTZ Rules and SHIAC’s determination to align their rules with key aspects of international best practice. This includes an ongoing trend towards the empowerment of arbitral tribunals, with arbitral institutions increasingly viewing themselves as service providers to the parties with a focus on transparency and efficiency.

At the same time, the new rules preserve and strengthen a key distinguishing feature of arbitration in the PRC, in the form of an emphasis on the combination of mediation with arbitration (an approach which is popular with and widely adopted by PRC parties). The relevant provisions of the rules have been expanded (Articles 54-57) and provide international parties with a helpful framework for understanding this important element of PRC arbitration culture.

The new rules were launched along with sector-specific rules for aviation and data arbitrations, a guidance note on “online” arbitration (including the use of the SHIAC “E-Platform”) and a guidance note on SHIAC’s services for ad hoc arbitration.

They were officially unveiled on 7 November 2023, and English translations are expected to be available on the SHIAC website shortly.