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Fast track arbitration for tanker owners

Mon 31 Jul 2017

Fast track arbitration for tanker owners
Maali Khader (EMAC): We aim to conclude mediation proceedings within 30 days

Article 50 of the EMAC Arbitration Rules opens new possibilities for speedy resolution of tanker disputes  
 
Newcomer Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC) is a specialist dispute-resolution centre focused on resolving maritime disputes through the alternative dispute methods of arbitration and mediation. As the only specialist centre in the Middle East, EMAC is well suited to handle tanker disputes occurring in the region. This is due to its accessibility and the speed and efficiency with which it aims to resolve disputes.
 
EMAC has issued its own set of arbitration and mediation rules. These are based on the UNCITRAL 2010 model rules with a model clause for parties to use. The rules, model clause and additional information about EMAC can be found online at www.emac.org.ae
 
Some of the key features of the arbitration rules worth highlighting include: fast-track arbitration, application for emergency arbitration, the ability to issue interim measures, and accessibility to common law jurisdiction.
 
Fast track arbitration, covered in Article 50 of the EMAC Arbitration Rules, is applicable for all cases below 7 million UAE dirhams (approximately US$1,900,000). But the parties may elect fast-track procedures, either as part of their arbitration clause or after a dispute arises. This is provided they make their request for fast-track arbitration before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal. Opting for fast-track arbitration after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal is subject to the arbitral tribunalís approval. Unless the parties agree otherwise, under the fast-track arbitration, the arbitral tribunal would be composed of a sole arbitrator to be agreed on by the parties or, failing that, to be appointed by EMACís Executive Committee. Of course, arbitrators can opt to proceed on the basis of documents-only arbitration to facilitate an expedited award. Awards shall be issued within a period of time not to exceed three months from the date of transmitting the file to the arbitral tribunal, unless EMACís Executive Committee has granted an extension at the request of the arbitral tribunal.
 
Under Article 12 of the EMAC Arbitration Rules, in cases of exceptional urgency, and prior to the formation of the arbitral tribunal, any party may apply to EMACís Secretariat for the immediate appointment of a temporary sole arbitrator to conduct emergency proceedings. EMACís Executive Committee has the discretion to accept or reject such application. If accepted, the temporary arbitrator shall be appointed by EMACís Executive Committee to conduct the emergency proceedings in any manner they determine is appropriate. The temporary arbitrator may hold any hearing and shall decide as soon as possible on the claim for emergency relief, order or award, and in all cases no longer than 14 days following its appointment. Any relief order or award made by the temporary arbitrator may be subsequently confirmed, varied, discharged or revoked in whole or in part by the arbitral tribunal for the main proceedings.
 
Arbitral tribunals are empowered under Article 28 to issue interim measures including, but not limited to, injunctions, restraining orders and dispositions. An interim measure is any temporary measure by which the arbitral tribunal orders a party to, for example, make payment for security for costs and provide means of preserving assets out of which a subsequent award may be satisfied.
 
EMACís Arbitration Rules provide that, in the absence of a choice to the contrary, arbitrations under EMAC would be seated in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a common law jurisdiction. Being seated in the DIFC means that EMAC awards would be recognised and ordered to be enforced by the DIFC courts. Furthermore, these awards can be enforced without review of the underlying merits in the local UAE courts, regionally and globally under bilateral or multilateral treaties such as the Riyadh Convention, or any country signatory to the New York Convention.
 
EMACís Mediation Rules also offer dispute resolution in a timely manner, with the aim of concluding mediation within 30 days of the date of notification. This period may be extended by EMAC Secretariat to 90 days in consultation with the parties.
 
If the parties reach an amicable settlement, they may request that the settlement be registered in the form of an arbitration award enabling them to be enforced as arbitral awards without requiring additional proceedings in the event of default.

This piece has been contributed by Maali Khader, Case Manager, EMAC

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