Revised rules tackle time and cost considerations with provisions for consolidation and expedited procedures.

The new arbitration rules of the Vietnam International Arbitration Center (VIAC) come into force on 1 March 2017. VIAC President Tran Huu Huynh recently presented the changes to an audience of government, law, and industry representatives. He outlined procedures to bring claims arising out of multiple contracts (Article 6), to consolidate arbitral proceedings (Article 15), and an expedited arbitration procedure (Article 37).

With these new rules, the VIAC joins a growing list of arbitral institutions around the world that make provision for consolidation of claims and expedited proceedings in appropriate circumstances.

Summary of Changes

The new rules aim to reduce the time and costs of VIAC arbitration proceedings:

  • Article 6 of the new rules gives parties the opportunity to bring claims relating to more than one contract in a single Request for Arbitration, including where the claims are brought under more than one arbitration agreement.
  • Article 15 provides that parties may agree to consolidate proceedings pending under the VIAC rules, subject to a decision by the VIAC. Proceedings will be consolidated into the arbitration that was commenced first, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
  • Article 37 provides that parties may agree to conduct their arbitration under an expedited arbitration process. Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the rules provide that the expedited proceedings will be conducted by a sole arbitrator. The VIAC or the tribunal may shorten any time limits set out in the rules. The tribunal may determine the matter based on the documents and evidence made available to it, unless the parties object. Where a hearing takes place, it may be conducted by teleconference or videoconference, unless the parties object.

Key Takeaways

These three new articles in VIAC’s rules provide parties with the option to consolidate proceedings and to conduct arbitrations on expedited terms. By giving parties new tools to shape the arbitral process, time and costs may be reduced. It appears that the articles can only be invoked by parties in agreement; they do not appear to allow a party to apply to the VIAC for consolidation or expedited arbitration where the other party or parties do not agree. Time will tell whether this will affect how frequently the articles will be invoked.