Creating arbitration platforms by using technology should serve “as an available option” to achieve efficiency and security of information, especially sensitive data.
This was discussed in a keynote speech by the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration (Qicca) general counsel Dr Minas Khatchadourian during the "Middle East Arbitration Symposium" hosted recently in Doha by international law firm, Pinsent Masons.
During the event, Pinsent Masons also unveiled key findings from their International Arbitration Survey 2019 on the topic of "Driving Efficiency in International Construction Disputes", undertaken in partnership with the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London.
In his keynote speech, Khatchadourian stressed that efficiency “is a real concern” for all parties involved in arbitration. He said arbitration institutions have opened the door to improving efficiency in arbitration procedures, following different surveys, which took place in the last few years and where stakeholders exchanged views and experienced arbitration procedures.
“To address concerns of time and cost efficiency, most of the national and international arbitral bodies, institutions, and centres have adopted expedited resolution processes for both small and medium-size projects.
“So, efficiency has been achieved through, for example, expedited arbitration rules (fast track) for small claims, electronic means of communication as a faster way to communicate, and early dismiss of unmeritorious claims,” he explained.
He added, “However, the dispute resolution community is eager to achieve more efficiency, including the practice of dispute prevention mechanisms, the use of dispute boards, some other mediation use at the pre-arbitral stage, and then through the proceedings until the rendering of the award.
“Exploring the views of the users in construction and infrastructure projects, are very significant in the diagnosis of issues and to improve the way dispute resolution should be optimally approached.”
Khatchadourian pointed out that while construction projects play a role in the development of a country, “the same goes to the amount of disappointment when a project goes wrong and the construction is interrupted for several months or years.”
“It is very true that in the chain of contracts related to construction, the cascade effect of disputes happening at the top level between the employer and the main contractor can have a negative impact on the sub-contractors, lenders, and insurers, among others, as it is common practice in construction projects to have more than one set of parallel contractual arrangements in place and where each of these contractual arrangements is regarded as a link in the overall contractual chain.
“Such inter-related effects have been felt in several cases in Qatar, or elsewhere, and where the arbitration has lasted more than two years despite the exertion of all possible efforts to reduce time and cost, dealing with complex arbitrations,” he said.
Khatchadourian underscored the need to move away “from incrementally improving what we already do and address the fundamental question of how we can most effectively deliver what the users of arbitration need.”
“Furthermore, third party funding, which was a novelty in our region a few years ago, has an increasing role to play in commercial or investment arbitration related to construction projects. Third party funding not only benefits claimants may also assist a respondent to know that an outside entity with much litigation experience has audited the case and decided to invest in it.
“Qatar and its arbitration community should draw practical lessons from the survey and find out the new trends and the dynamism of the ever-evolving world of arbitration,” Khatchadourian said.
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