The Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) has published the second edition of its arbitration rules, which came into effect on May 1, 2023 and applies to all arbitrations commenced on or after that date. As compared to the 2018 rules, these amendments are aimed at making the SCCA more attractive to a variety of business sectors. The new rules are the fruit of two years of consultation with industry experts, all in an effort to meet the highest standards in international arbitration. Some of the noteworthy amendments include the establishment of the SCCA Court, the removal of references to Sharia law, and new regulations regarding consolidation, cybersecurity, joinder, and emergency protective measures.
- The new rules have established the SCCA Court, which has a broad range of responsibilities and powers. These include appointing arbitrators, consolidating two or more related pending arbitrations, and determining the arbitrator and administrative fees, among others. With this move, the SCCA is closely following key arbitral institutions such as the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) and the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”).
- While references to the mandatory application of Sharia law have been removed, the new rules still offer parties the option to comply with it when choosing a model clause.
- The provision for emergency measures of protection has also changed considerably. Appendix III is dedicated to emergency arbitrator procedures. Parties can now apply for emergency relief as early as the Request for Arbitration submission. The Emergency Arbitrator must be appointed within one business day from the commencement of the proceedings, and the Emergency Arbitrator is obligated to “issue his or her interim award or order no later than 15 days” from the date the file was transmitted.
- Cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection are also emphasized in the new rules. Under Article 46, the tribunal has the power to determine the appropriate measures that are reasonable under the circumstances of the particular arbitration. The tribunal can also amend the measures as it sees fit during the proceedings.
- There is a larger emphasis on multi-contract and multiparty arbitration in the new rules as compared to the 2018 rules, with a section that covers joinder and consolidation. Notably, Article 11 now allows for claims arising in connection with more than one contract to be advanced in a single arbitration, even if the claims are made under more than one arbitration agreement.
The new SCCA rules are in line with the organization’s goal of ensuring consistent compliance with the best international arbitration standards and practices. This step forward is in line with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s general goal of becoming a key player in global commerce and, specifically, in international dispute resolution.
For further information, please contact:
John L. Murino, Partner, Crowell & Moring