As every arbitration institution, the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (“VIAC”), too, recommends a certain model arbitration clause to be agreed upon by parties intending to submit their disputes to VIAC. While it is indeed not obligatory to use such model arbitration clause, it is highly advisable to do so. Apparently in the wake of a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation ("Russian Supreme Court") of 26 September 2018 (Case no. 305-ЭС18-11934), VIAC is recommending certain additions to its model arbitration clause in case Russian parties are involved.

It is reported that in the mentioned decision, a judge of the Russian Supreme Court upheld decisions of lower courts refusing to enforce an ICC award on the ground that, inter alia, the underlying ICC arbitration clause (which was apparently almost identical to the current standard ICC clause recommended on the ICC's website, see https://iccwbo.org/dispute-resolution-services/arbitration/arbitration-clause/) did not constitute an enforceable agreement to submit a dispute to arbitration under the ICC Rules. Reportedly, in the court's view a mere reference to the "Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce" in the arbitration clause without reference to the "ICC International Court of Arbitration" was obviously considered ambiguous as it would not evidence the parties' consent to a specific institution resolving their dispute (cf Fremuth-Wolf/Grill in VIAC Handbook 2019 Annex 1 mn 5; Khvalei, Supreme Court on Validity of the ICC Model Clause: Keep Calm and Carry On, ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin 2018, Issue 4, p. 24 et seqq).

Furthermore, it is reported that at the end of December 2018, the Russian Supreme Court published a review of jurisprudence (apparently summarizing Russian courts' practice on various issues and serving as guidance to lower courts), also relating to state court practice concerning arbitration related issues (e.g. globalarbitrationreview.com [accessed on 21 March 2019]; cf. also Fremuth-Wolf/Grill in VIAC Handbook 2019 Annex 1 mn 5 fn 10 with further references). In this review, the Russian Supreme Court has reportedly confirmed the validity and enforceability of an ICC model arbitration clause and noted that a reference to the ICC Rules of Arbitration is sufficient for an arbitration clause to be deemed valid and enforceable, since the parties’ intent as to the formation of the arbitral tribunal can be easily drawn from the reference to the ICC Rules of Arbitration (cf Khvalei, Supreme Court on Validity of the ICC Model Clause: Keep Calm and Carry On, ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin 2018, Issue 4, p. 26).

In any case, it seems advisable to follow VIAC's recommendation for an amended model arbitration clause in case Russian parties are involved (additions to the usual model arbitration clause are in italics and underlined):

"All disputes or claims arising out of or in connection with this contract, including disputes relating to its validity, breach, termination or nullity, shall be submitted to the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC) of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and shall be finally settled under the Rules of Arbitration (Vienna Rules) of VIAC by one or three arbitrators appointed in accordance with the said Rules." (cf https://www.viac.eu/en/arbitration/arbitration-clause-vienna-rules-2018).