Revised Swiss Rules of International Arbitration

As of 1 June 2021, the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution (SCAI) becomes the Swiss Arbitration Centre. On the same date, the revised Swiss Rules of International Arbitration will come into force. Key changes include provisions on multi-party and multi-contract proceedings and several amendments to streamline the proceedings, allowing for paperless filings and remote hearings.

Institutional changes

At the institutional level, the SCAI becomes the Swiss Arbitration Centre. The centre is a Swiss company whose shareholders are the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) and the Swiss Chambers of Commerce participating in SCAI. Despite the institutional change, arbitration clauses referring to SCAI remain valid and binding and will be recognised and applied by the Swiss Arbitration Centre.

Organization of Proceedings

The arbitral tribunal will hold an initial case management conference with the parties to discuss the organization of the arbitration proceedings and issues of data protection and cybersecurity (Art. 19(2)). At the initial conference or promptly thereafter, the arbitral tribunal shall prepare a procedural timetable setting forth the steps to be undertaken in the course of the proceedings, including time limits for written submissions, supporting evidence, and the dates of any hearings, as well as an estimate of the time required by the arbitral tribunal for its main decisions.

Further, the revised Swiss Rules explicitly provide for an arbitrator’s potential role as settlement facilitator. With the agreement of each of the parties, the arbitral tribunal may take steps to facilitate the settlement of the dispute before it (art. 19(5)). Any such agreement by a party shall constitute a waiver of its right to challenge an arbitrator’s impartiality based on the arbitrator’s participation and knowledge acquired in taking the agreed steps.

Costs

Cost deposits will be held by the Secretariat rather than by the arbitral tribunal (Appendix B, sect. 4.1). In order to reflect the increased workload of the Secretariat under the revised Swiss Rules, the revised Schedule of Costs in Appendix B provides for slightly higher administrative costs, compensated for by slightly reduced fees for arbitrators.

Multi-party and multi-contract arbitrations

The revised Swiss Rules strengthen the institution’s role in multi-contract situations. In addition to the standard prima facie review whether there is manifestly no arbitration agreement, art. 5 of the revised Swiss Rules provides that the Court shall also determine whether the arbitration agreements contained in the contracts in question are "manifestly incompatible". When the Court decides to administer the case, the arbitral tribunal retains the power to rule on any jurisdictional issue, including an objection that claims brought under different arbitration agreements should not be determined together (art. 23(1)).

The revised Swiss Rules contain detailed provisions on multi-party situations. The previous version of the Swiss Rules already addressed such situation in quite some detail. The revised Swiss Rules build on this, but add rules explicitly dealing with a respondent raising claims against another co-respondent (cross-claim) or an additional party (joinder), or an additional party seeking to participate in the proceedings by bringing claims against an existing party (intervention) (art. 6).

Amendments reflecting technological developments

Under the revised Swiss Rules, a claimant will be able to submit the Notice of Arbitration electronically. The filing of hard copies is no longer required if a claimant agrees for the respondent to be notified by e-mail (art. 3(1)). Article 27(2) allows for hearings to be held "remotely by videoconference or other appropriate means" as decided by the arbitral tribunal after consultation with the parties.

 
Let’s
Team Up
You have a project, case, legal issue or anything else you want to ask us? We are passionate to find out how we can team up with you to get it done.
Let's get in touch