Vancouver International Arbitration Centre to adopt new international commercial arbitration rules

New rules to take effect on July 1

Vancouver International Arbitration Centre to adopt new international commercial arbitration rules

The Vancouver International Arbitration Centre (VanIAC) has announced the adoption of new procedure rules governing the conduct of international commercial arbitration more than two decades after they were last amended.

“The new rules adopt several measures that we have seen in recent updates to other international arbitration rules that aim to increase efficiency and optionality in proceedings,” Rachel Howie, Alim Khamis, and Melika Mostowfi of Dentons Canada LLP wrote in a blog post.

Howie, Khamis, and Mostowfi added that the new rules align VanIAC’s international arbitration procedure with certain aspects of the typical court process relating to potential injunctive and ex parte interim relief and with developments in arbitration procedure in general, such as the ability to seek early disposition.

In particular, the new rules allow a party to apply for leave to bring an application for early disposition of one or more issues of fact or law at any stage of the proceedings. Once leave is granted, all parties have the opportunity to present their positions regarding the suitability of the matter for early disposition, and the potential summary procedures should apply to the application.

If a party applies for preliminary order or interim measure before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the new rules require the VanIAC to appoint an emergency arbitrator within two days of the application’s receipt. Once selected, the emergency arbitrator shall establish a procedure to hear the application for preliminary order or interim measure within three days from the appointment.

Moreover, the new rules authorize a party to apply for ex parte preliminary order and interim measure. A party resorting to this relief shall state in the application for a preliminary order the reasons “why prior disclosure of the request for the interim measure to the party against whom it is directed risks frustrating the purpose of the interim measure.”

“There are also strict disclosure requirements on the applying party and the rules recognize that such relief may be prohibited by law or prohibited by the parties by agreement,” Howie, Khamis, and Mostowfi wrote.

The new rules also include “international expedited procedures” for cases where a claim or counterclaim does not exceed $500,000, exclusive of interest and costs. However, the expedited procedures are inapplicable if the parties have agreed to an arbitral tribunal consisting of more than one arbitrator or if the parties have agreed to opt-out of them.

The new rules also provide that an arbitral tribunal generally consists of a sole arbitrator unless otherwise agreed by the parties. In addition, the arbitral tribunal may direct matters to proceed through a virtual hearing.

“While adding to the range of options available to parties looking for sophisticated international arbitration rules, the developments in the new rules underscore the need for users to carefully consider which rules they want to adopt,” Howie, Khamis, and Mostowfi wrote.

The new rules will take effect on July 1.

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