ADCCAC has, over the years, become the favoured arbitration institution for all Abu Dhabi Government owned companies and many other local corporations. On 1 September 2013, ADCCAC published new Procedural Regulations of Arbitration, the first amendments since the Centre was established in 1993. The main changes introduced are:
1. The time limit to render the award
In the original regulations, an arbitral award had to be issued within 6 months of the date of the start of the proceedings unless the parties had agreed a longer period. Those regulations did not provide an arbitral tribunal with authority to extend this time limit, leaving proceedings in many instances at risk of termination prior to the issuance of any final award. The new regulations, while maintaining the 6 month time limit, now provide that both the arbitral tribunal and ADCCAC’s Executive Committee may extend that period if the need arises, particularly in circumstances where the parties have failed to reach an agreement.
2. An explicit exclusion of liability
In contrast to the original regulations, the new regulations expressly exclude from liability the Centre, its staff, experts and, most importantly, the arbitrators, from any claims against them by the parties, for any acts made or actions taken in good faith.
3. The waiver of the right to object
Under the new regulations, any failure by a party to object to any non-compliance with the regulations or to any other general procedural irregularity of which it is aware within a reasonable time, is deemed to be an irrevocable waiver of its right to object at any later stage. The aim of the regulations is to reduce a party’s ability to raise such objections at the recognition and enforcement stages for example, to set aside an award.
In addition to these main changes, which apply to all arbitrations currently underway as well as to new arbitrations, the new regulations also aim to facilitate the arbitral process in general, such as by putting in place a clear procedure of appointing arbitrators, confirming the confidentiality of the proceedings, and providing a costs and fees calculator not unlike that with which users of ICC arbitration will be familiar. However, it should be noted that the new regulations retain the requirement that awards be issued in Arabic in addition to any other language in which the proceedings were conducted.
ADCCAC currently administers around 150 arbitrations annually and, with the new regulations bringing ADCCAC more in line with other regional and international centres, it will be interesting to see whether this number will increase in future years.