On 31 July 2018, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released its full statistical report for 2017. This report of one of the prevailing arbitral institutions worldwide confirms the leading role of Switzerland in the field of international arbitration.
Switzerland is the second most frequently chosen seat
Switzerland was the second most frequently chosen seat in the world in 2017. Arbitrations conducted under the ICC Rules were seated in 104 different cities in 63 countries. 13% of all proceedings were seated in Switzerland (Geneva or Zurich), second only to Paris (18%) but ahead of London, New York, Singapore and other leading seats. This reflects the global perception of Switzerland as a major venue for international arbitrations and the appreciation that users of international arbitration have for its stable and neutral political environment and efficient legal framework, combined with excellent infrastructure and accessibility.
Swiss law most commonly chosen civil law
According to ICC statistics, Swiss law is one of the four most commonly chosen laws by parties in ICC proceedings, and together with French law the most commonly chosen civil law. Besides being perceived as a "neutral" law, the substantive law of Switzerland is popular with users around the world for its business-friendliness, as reflected by extensive party autonomy, its very concise nature and accessibility, and governs international commercial contracts in a wide array of industries and sectors, from financial transactions over M&A and other sales contracts to large construction and engineering projects, licensing agreements and contracts in the energy sector.
Swiss arbitrators remain top choice
Swiss nationals were again amongst the top three most appointed and confirmed arbitrators out of 85 nationalities, reaching almost 8% of all appointments. This mirrors the high quality of Swiss arbitrators and the strong arbitration community in Switzerland, which continuously seeks to innovate and improve the arbitral process.
Diversity figures improve
The report also highlights further encouraging data. The number of appointments and confirmations of female arbitrators rose to 249, representing 16.7% of all appointments and confirmations, although the ICC Court still appoints a larger number of female arbitrators than the parties themselves. In terms of geographical diversity, arbitrators appointed and confirmed in 2017 represented 85 different nationalities, ten more than in 2016. The breakdown of arbitrators by region shows that 59.5% of all arbitrators originated from Europe, 13.7% from Asia and the Pacific, 13.5% from Latin America and the Caribbean, 9.3% from North America, and 3.9% from Africa. Although these numbers show that there is still some way to go in terms of more geographical diversity, this breakdown corresponds to some extent with the geographical breakdown of parties to ICC arbitrations - Europe 42.4%, Asia and the Pacific 23.5%, Latin America and the Caribbean 15.8%, North America 9.5%, Africa 9%.
In conclusion, the ICC's 2017 statistical report confirms the leading role Switzerland plays in international arbitration and the continued trust users to international arbitration have in Switzerland both in terms of the legal framework and the infrastructure best suited to conduct an international arbitration. It also underlines the frequent use of Swiss law in international commercial contracts.