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A New Specialised Institution for Dispute Resolution for Aviation

A new specialised forum for dispute resolution for the global aviation industry was launched in July 2022 in The Hague. The Hague Court of Arbitration for Aviation (the “HCAA”) is a non-profit and independent specialised court of arbitration and centre for mediation focusing on the resolution of disputes arising in the aviation sector.

The HCAA is administered by the Netherlands Arbitration Institution, a well-established international forum for arbitration. It aims to provide “a fast, fair, flexible and final form of binding dispute resolution” for the aviation sector.

The HCAA also aims to offer a private and neutral venue for industry players as it has “no allegiance to any industry player or special interest group over another”, which of course is a crucial for a sector in which key players can dominate the market.

Similar to other specialised arbitral institutions or courts, such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the World Intellectual Property Organisation Arbitration and Mediation Center, the HCAA maintains a pool of aviation specialists able to act as mediators, arbitrators or experts.

In addition to the benefits of specialisation and impartiality other key features of the HCAA include:

  • Emergency Measures: the HCAA Rules allow for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator to decide on urgent interim or conservatory measures that cannot wait until the constitution of the arbitral tribunal. An emergency arbitrator is appointed within two days of a party’s request for such urgent measures. The emergency arbitrator will establish the procedural timetable for the emergency proceedings within two days (at the latest) of their appointment. The emergency arbitrator will then issue their decision within fifteen days from receipt of the file.
  • Expedited Proceedings: the HCAA Rules stipulate that expedited proceedings will apply if the amount in dispute does not exceed €10 million or where the parties agree. The default position is that one arbitrator will be appointed within one month of the commencement of the expedited proceedings. In addition, the tribunal should endeavour to issue its final award within five months from the case management conference (but in any case, no later than six months from that date, subject to extensions by the administrator or the parties’ approval). It should however be noted that expedited proceedings can be changed to standard arbitral proceedings where it becomes clear that the case is not or no longer suitable for expedited proceedings.
  • Model Clauses: the HCAA Rules also set out recommended model clauses for future disputes and existing disputes (also known as a “submission agreement”). These clauses also set out additional elements which the parties may include such as the qualifications of the arbitrators, the use of expedited proceedings and allocation of legal costs.
  • Costs: the costs of an arbitration is generally dependent on the value and complexity of the claim as well as the number of hours spent by the arbitrators. The HCAA Rules provide scales for both the administration costs and the hourly rates of the arbitrators based on the value of the claim.

The HCAA is a welcome development as it provides those operating in the aviation sector a specialised forum for dispute resolution, particularly in light of the increase in popularity of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes.

 

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