Arbitral proceedings

Starting an arbitration proceeding
What is needed to commence arbitration?

Article 27 of the Arbitration Act provides that the arbitration proceeding starts on the day of receipt of the request for arbitration by the respondent, unless the parties agree otherwise.

Limitation periods
Are there any limitation periods for the commencement of arbitration?

Without prejudice to any applicable substantive or procedural rules providing for limitation periods, the Arbitration Act does not provide for limitation periods for the commencement of arbitration.

Procedural rules
Are there any procedural rules that arbitrators must follow?

Article 25 of the Arbitration Act provides that the parties may designate the procedural rules to be followed, failing which the arbitral tribunal will apply the procedural rules it deems suitable.

Dissenting arbitrators
Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction?

Arbitral awards need not be unanimous under the Arbitration Act. However, the act neither specifically provides for nor prohibits dissenting opinions.

Judicial assistance
Can local courts intervene in proceedings?

Local courts may assist the arbitral process in many respects, including by:

  • granting interim measures (Article 14);
  • appointing arbitrators (Article 17);
  • deciding on challenges to arbitrators (Article 19); and
  • deciding whether to extend the time limit to issue the award or terminate the arbitral proceedings (Article 45).

Can the local courts assist in choosing arbitrators?

Article 17 of the Arbitration Act provides that if the parties disagree on one or more of the arbitrators to be appointed, the domestic court – determined by Article 9 to be the Cairo Court of Appeal by default unless otherwise agreed by the parties – will appoint the sole arbitrator or intervene as necessary to appoint all or some of the arbitrators.

What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration? Can the courts compel parties to arbitrate? Can they issue subpoenas to third parties?

Article 34 of the Arbitration Act provides that if the claimant fails to submit its statement of claim in accordance with Article 30 of the Arbitration Act without a valid reason for such failure, the arbitral tribunal must end the arbitration, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. However, if the respondent is the party which fails to submit its statement of defence, then in accordance with Article 34, the arbitral tribunal must proceed with the arbitration, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

Article 35 further provides that if a party fails to attend a hearing or submit requested documents, the arbitral tribunal may proceed with the arbitration and decide based on the evidence available to it.

Finally, Article 37 empowers local courts, on request from the arbitral tribunal, to penalise witnesses who refuse to appear or provide answers.

Third parties
In what instances can third parties be bound by an arbitration agreement or award?

The Arbitration Act does not specify the instances in which third parties may be bound by an arbitration agreement or award; therefore, this matter depends on the applicable law.

Default language and seat
Unless agreed by the parties, what is the default language and location for arbitrations?

Article 28 of the Arbitration Act provides that the seat of arbitration is determined by the arbitral tribunal in the absence of an agreement between the parties. However, the tribunal may convene at any location it deems appropriate.

Arabic is the default language, as provided in Article 29.

Gathering evidence
How is evidence obtained by the tribunal?

The Arbitration Act contains few provisions on evidence, given that it grants the parties and, in the absence of their agreement, the arbitral tribunal, the power to decide on the procedural rules that will govern the arbitral process (Article 25 of the Arbitration Act).

Article 30 provides that the parties may enclose evidence supporting their claims in their submissions.

Article 33 further provides that the arbitral tribunal may hold hearings to provide all parties with an opportunity to:

  • explain the subject matter of the dispute;
  • present their arguments and evidence; and
  • hear experts and witnesses (without administering an oath).

According to Article 36, the arbitral tribunal may also appoint experts to provide written or oral reports on specific matters.

Finally, under Article 37, the applicable domestic court may assist the arbitral tribunal in obtaining evidence through rogatory commissions.

What kinds of evidence are acceptable?

The Arbitration Act refers to witnesses (Article 33), experts (Articles 31 and 36), documentary evidence (Articles 30 and 31) and “other evidence” (Article 31).

Is confidentiality ensured?

Article 44 of the Arbitration Act ensures the confidentiality of the award, stating that it may not be disclosed in whole or in part unless agreed by the parties. The act does not specifically address the confidentiality of the proceedings.

Ethical codes
What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?

The Arbitration Act contains no specific ethical rules or professional standards. Legal literature considers that commonly accepted ethical codes will nevertheless apply to arbitral tribunals seated in Egypt. Counsel who are members of the Egyptian Bar are bound by the rules set out in the Law 17/1983 on the Legal Profession.