The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”), has issued its “Report of Working Group II (Dispute Settlement) on the work of its sixty-ninth session (New York, 4–8 February 2019).”  During its session, the Working Group, which is composed of elected individuals from each of the 60 UNCITRAL member nations, focused on issues related to expedited arbitration. In advance of the Working Group’s session, the Secretariat issued a note titled “Settlement of commercial disputes Issues relating to expedited arbitration,” which provided the basis for discussion.

The Working Group’s Report primarily focused on improving the efficiency of arbitral proceedings with the hope that doing so “would result in the reduction of the cost and duration of the proceedings.”  The Working Group chose the following elements to be included in its discussion on expedited arbitration:

  • Due process and fairness;
  • Recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards resulting from expedited arbitration; and
  • Application of expedited arbitration procedure.

 

In addition, the Working Group considered:

  1. Composition and appointment of the arbitral tribunal
  2. Shorter timelines
  3. Management of the proceedings and procedural measures
  4. Additional claims, counterclaims and late submissions
  5. Taking of evidence
  6. Hearings
  7. Mechanism for the application of expedited arbitration
  8. Enforcement
  9. Role of institutions and other authority in expedited arbitration

 

The Working Group also discussed “the possible form that its work on expedited arbitration could take,” including “preparing a set of rules on expedited arbitration,” the creation of “model clauses for use by parties that wished to engage in expedited arbitration,” and determined “guidance on expedited arbitration could be provided, either by modifying existing guidance texts of UNCITRAL or by preparing a stand-alone text.” Additionally, the Working Group stated:

It was noted that the possible forms suggested were not mutually exclusive and that there might be benefit in preparing multiple instruments that could complement each other. It was generally felt that work could begin on the preparation of a set of rules on expedited arbitration, the presentation of which would need to be considered at a later stage. It was further noted that rules on expedited arbitration should have a linkage to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules to provide sound alternatives as well as flexibility to the parties. It was mentioned that guidance on the application of the rules on expedited arbitration could be better provided once the rules had been prepared.

Finally, “the Working Group agreed that priority should be given to work on expedited arbitration” before addressing other business:

The Working Group recalled that the Commission at its forty-ninth session, in 2016, approved a joint project with the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA), the aim of which was to promote the revised UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings. The project consisted in the development of an online toolbox designed for the needs of arbitrators, counsel and in-house counsel. The Working Group was informed that ASA was currently testing the toolbox. Delegations were invited to participate and to inform the Secretariat accordingly.

Both the Working Group’s Report and the Secretariat’s Note are available on UNCITRAL’s website.

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