1. Case Management and Arbitration Court
Under the 2012 Rules the secretariat handled both the day-to-day affairs of CIETAC and the case management. The 2015 Rules introduce an Arbitration Court which now handles the case management.
2. Encouraging the Use of a Single Arbitration
The 2015 Rules contain three provisions that can be utilized to by the parties to settle all disputes related to a particular matter in a single dispute. These provisions can promote efficiency and save on costs. The provision on the “Consolidation of Arbitrations” was amended, while provisions on “Arbitration Involving Multiple Contracts” and the “Joinder of Additional Parties” were added.
3. New Default Upper Limit for the Summary Procedure
Under the 2012 Rules, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, disputes with the amount in dispute less than RMB 2,000,000 automatically used the Summary Procedure. The 2015 Rules changes this value to RMB 5,000,000. Of course, parties can still agree to use the Summary Procedure for disputes of a larger amount.
4. Special provisions for the CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Center
Chapter VI of the 2015 Rules creates the CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Center. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, for arbitrations administered by the CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Center the place of arbitration shall be Hong Kong, the law applicable to the arbitral proceedings shall be the arbitration law of Hong Kong, and the arbitral award shall be a Hong Kong award. .
5. Emergency Arbitrator Procedures
The 2015 Rules introduce CIETAC’s first emergency arbitrator procedures. These procedures are to be used when a party applies for emergency relief. Generally the emergency arbitrator will issue emergency orders within 15 days from the date of the arbitrator’s acceptance of the appointment.
6. Other Amendments
There are several other small, but important, amendments:
(1) Article 8 allows the Arbitration Court to attempt to deliver documents in certain circumstances. When doing so, a method must be used that allows for recording of an attempt to deliver. These methods now include “service by public notary, entrustment or retention.”
(2) Article 9 used to require mere “bona fide cooperation” with the proceedings but now requires “good faith.”
(3) Under the 2012 Rules, when an arbitrator had to be replaced the amount of time to do so was fixed and the same as the amount of time to select an arbitrator. Under the 2015 Rules, the Arbitration Court will set the time limit (which can be longer or shorter than under the previous rules).
(4) Article 35 allows the presiding arbitrator of the tribunal to decide on the procedures at his/her own discretion if authorized by the other members of the tribunal.
(5) Article 40 allows the parties to request the Arbitral Court to have a stenographer present to record an oral hearing. If the Arbitral Court does engage such a stenographer the cost is borne by the parties.
(6) As per Appendix II of the 2015 Rules, the arbitrator’s fee can exceed the maximum amount specified in the fee table (based on the amount in dispute) if the parties agree or CIETAC determines there are exceptional circumstances that warrant such an increase.
This note has briefly described the biggest changes to CIETAC’s Arbitration Rules. Many of these changes will play an important role in parties’ future choices as to what arbitration center to use and, if CIETAC is utilized, what strategies they utilize.