7 May 2024
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Overview of arbitral institution rules in the UAE & KSA and practical considerations

To The Point
(3 min read)

The 1 February 2024 launch of the Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre (branded as arbitrateAD) confirms a regional trend of establishing or refreshing arbitral institutions in the UAE, KSA and wider GCC. This is in response to the significant growth in large disputes in the GCC region. This trend confirms the maturity of the GCC arbitration market and has provided jurisdictions the confidence to “go out on their own” and establish institutions, rather than rely on traditional platforms. 

As new market participants enter the region, it is crucial that they are familiar with the rules of these arbitral institutions which are increasingly being incorporated into commercial and construction contracts in the region.

In the table (that can be downloaded using the link below), we compare key provisions in the rules of the following arbitral institutions and highlight practical considerations for users:

  • Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) Arbitration Rules 2023;
  • Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) Arbitration Rules 2022;
  • arbitrateAD Arbitration Rules 2024; and
  • ICC Arbitration Rules 2021.

Whilst there is a significant degree of commonality between the rules of these arbitral institutions (reflecting the drive for harmonisation in international arbitration), there are some differences. For example:

a)    The DIAC and arbitrateAD rules provide for default seats for the arbitration (should the parties not expressly agree one in the arbitration agreement) which is not the case with the other two institutions.

b)    The SCCA rules' default position is that an arbitration may be decided “on a document only basis” unless the Tribunal agrees to hold a hearing – which is not the default with the other institutions. It is however reflective of a trend for quick and cost-effective arbitration procedures.

c)    All four arbitral institutions offer expedited arbitration procedures for low value disputes – however the monetary thresholds for the application of such rules differ as also the time limits for concluding such procedures.

d)    There are also differences in time limits for raising a jurisdiction challenge – the ICC has no express time limit, DIAC and ArbitrateAD require the challenge to be raised in the initial defence to the claim (or counterclaim) and the SCCA is stricter with a challenge required in the answer to the request to arbitration.

Overall, the focus on efficiency and cost effectiveness promoted by the above arbitral institutions demonstrates a willingness to be at the forefront of global arbitration in partnership with the growth of the GCC as a whole.

More information

Download the full article and comparison table of key arbitral institutions' provisions via the link below.

For advice on arbitral trends in the GCC and specific guidance on particular arbitral institutions, please contact one of our specialists.

To the Point 

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