Created in 1926, the International Arbitration Chamber of Paris (IACP) proposes to “resolve disputes arising from domestic and international business transactions in all branches of Commerce & Industry through the means of arbitration and more recently mediation.” Since its creation, almost 30,000 disputes related to trade and industry have been successfully resolved before the IACP, both in domestic and international matters (http://www.arbitrage.org).
The IACP developed different sets of rules: one, general, that governs arbitration, and others, particularly adapted to specific activities, established via partnerships with various associations and professional unions (association of intellectual property lawyers, French franchise federation…).
At the request of its users, and to respond to the evolutions of practice, the IACP recently modified its 2011 arbitration rules (the “2011 Rules”). The new version of the Rules came into force on 1 September 2015 (the “2015 Rules” or “the new Rules”).
The 2011 Rules had notable characteristics, among which the choice left to the parties to opt for a two-stage procedure: “Each of the parties may request a second examination of the case” (Article 45 of the 2011 Rules); this second degree procedure is conducted before an arbitral tribunal composed differently (Article 47 of the 2011 Rules). Other distinctive sign: the choice of the arbitrators, whom are trained by an organism designated by the institution, is to be made on a list drawn up by the IACP.
Although maintaining these characteristics, the 2015 Rules evolve on numerous points:
- Speed of the procedure by the use of new technologies.
The 2015 Rules specifically provide that “The International Arbitration Chamber of Paris reserves its right to organize hearings by video conference or audio conference.” Article 21 clarifies that “Depending on the circumstances, the Arbitral Tribunal may decide that this preliminary hearing will hold by teleconference.” Consequently, the 2015 Rules promote a dematerialized, more flexible, procedure, which provides more efficiency and lower costs for the parties.
Even if it is relatively common for arbitral tribunals to use such tools in the interest of efficiency of the procedure, both in terms of costs and time, institutions include more and more frequently this possibility expressly in order to encourage their use (see, for example, Article 3 of the ICC Rules, Article 4.1 and 4.3 of the LCIA Rules).
- Facilitation of the access to mediation
The new Rules also promote the amicable resolution of the dispute by providing that the parties may now opt, at any time, for a mediation (Article 4.1). The President of the IACP can suggest to the parties the use of mediation (Article 4.2).
- Optional use of lists of arbitrators
The appointment of arbitrators by selection on the IACP’s list remains the principle, but the rule has been significantly softened: the “single” list provided at Article 11 of the 2011 Rules, which was exhaustive and binding, becomes an “indicative” list in the 2015 Rules. The new Rules thus expand the “pool” of arbitrators that may be appointed.
This provision is welcome since the parties or the institution may be faced with a lack of availability of the arbitrators on the list, or the impossibility to appoint them because of their links with the parties. In these circumstances, the list proposed to the parties does not permit the appointment of one or more arbitrators and recourse to the judge acting in support of the arbitration was necessary. The new Rules overcome this difficulty.
- Simplification of the emergency arbitration procedure
Articles 50 et seq. of the 2015 Rules establish an emergency arbitration procedure. This procedure, already included in the 2011 Rules is simplified.
Article 50 of the 2011 Rules imposed an arbitral tribunal composed of three arbitrators for emergency procedures. According to the new provision, the parties may agree that the arbitration be conducted by a single arbitrator, which contributes to the speediness of the procedure. In this case, the sole arbitrator will be appointed by the President of the IACP (Article 53, para. 2 of the 2015 Rules). The President of the IACP will also decide whether the urgent procedure requested by a party should be initiated or not (Article 50, para. 2 of the same Rules).
Finally, the new Rules specifiy that the decision of the emergency arbitrator now takes the form of an order and not an award (Article 53), as in the ICC Rules (Article 29 (2) – see Caroline Duclercq’s article on the subject here.)
- Criteria for characterizing breach by arbitrators of their obligations of independence and impartiality
Finally, regarding the arbitrators’ obligation of independence and impartiality, the 2015 Rules provide that an arbitrator may be challenged in a general case, i.e., if he is interested “in any way” in the outcome of the dispute (Article 13), and in two defined cases: if the arbitrator is either a “parent” or an “ally of any of the parties” (Article 13).
This is an interesting innovation since few arbitration rules establish defined cases of breaches of the obligation of independence and impartiality. However, if the first case of parenthood between the arbitrator and one of the parties is conceivable, the standard of an arbitrator “ally of one of the parties” is subject to interpretation.
In conclusion, the new 2015 Rules do not represent a radical reform of IACP arbitration, but they allow the institution to conform with the constant changes of arbitral practice to the extent that it reinforces the IACP process’ efficiency and speed.
The 2015 Rules are available here.