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Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration publishes new Arbitration Rules

The SCCA has released a revised set of rules that will apply to all arbitrations filed with the Center on or after 1 May 2023.

The new Rules can be found in full here.

The 2023 Arbitration Rules are the culmination of nearly two years of work by the SCCA and its team, who have consulted widely with international subject-matter experts from a variety of countries and backgrounds.

The final text of the Rules was then reviewed by a subcommittee of the SCCA’s Board of Directors chaired by Toby Landau KC.

In March we wrote about a draft of the 2023 Arbitration Rules, commenting that the draft contained significant improvements to the 2018 Arbitration Rules. These improvements have made it to the final issued version.

One of the major changes in the Rules is the introduction of the SCCA Court, which has responsibility for making key administrative decisions relating to SCCA-related arbitrations. The 15 person-strong Court consists of arbitration experts from a dozen countries with many years of arbitration experience, including international arbitrators, academics, former leaders of arbitral institutions, retired appeal court judges, and high-profile practitioners. Its President is Professor Jan Paulsson, a well-known practitioner and academic.

Other significant changes in the new Arbitration Rules include:

  • An emphasis on using technology in filing documents and managing cases. In particular, the Rules allow parties to opt into the industry-wide Online Dispute Resolution Procedure Rules (the ODR Rules) where the aggregate amount in dispute does not exceed SAR 200,000 (roughly USD 53,000).
  • A significant expansion to the tribunal’s discretionary powers, such as:
  • the ability to determine the most effective format for hearings (including remote hearings);
  • the ability to reject changes in party representation as a procedural safeguard to avoid conflicts;
  • the ability to encourage parties to resort to mediation where appropriate;
  • imposing limitations on the length of written statements or requests; and
  • the electronic signing of awards.

The addition of two reasons for the removal of an arbitrator, namely a failure by the arbitrator to perform and a manifest lack of party-agreed qualifications.

New rules addressing a number of emerging practices and issues in international arbitration such as:

  • multi-party arbitrations and multi-contract disputes;
  • the consolidation, or otherwise coordination, of parallel arbitrations;
  • third party funding;
  • the publication of redacted awards absent party objection; and
  • the need for cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection.

The 2023 Rules are a welcome revision to an already robust set of rules. They demonstrate that the SCCA is closely following developments in international arbitration and is willing to promptly revise them to give users confidence that the SCCA Rules have the tools to efficiently deal with any issues that arise.

The SCCA’s press release on the new Rules is available here.

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