Survey of the CIS Legal Services Market in International Arbitration

International arbitration market research

Legal Insight magazine has published a Survey of the CIS legal services market in International Arbitration prepared jointly with the Russian Arbitration Association and CIS Arbitration Forum.

The authors of the survey have indicated the main trends connected with the CIS arbitration market, in particular, the rapidly growing amount of CIS-related disputes and the connection of a significant part of major global disputes with CIS countries. The survey also draws attention to arbitration rules, centres and law preferred by CIS parties.

The survey contains the following headlines: main characteristics of arbitrations involving participation of CIS-based companies; arbitral institutions which hear disputes involving participation of CIS–based companies; choice of law and arbitration rules; international commercial arbitration market in CIS countries; investment arbitration market in CIS countries; best law firms practising international arbitration in CIS countries; arbitrators market in CIS countries; rating of reputable CIS specialists in international arbitration; and in-house counsels’ role in international arbitration.

Methods of the Study  

The empirical base of the study consists of several parts: online enquiry of law firms and in-house legal departments; expert interviews of arbitrators, law firms and in-house legal departments; research of surveys and statistics conducted and compiled by local and foreign arbitration centres.

The study is complex and unique. It involved representatives of all known CIS participants of arbitration proceedings. The subject of the survey covers different issues of the arbitration, including interaction between legal departments and external counsel, tactical preferences of clients from CIS countries and similarities and differences between arbitration markets in CIS member states.

Main Conclusions of the Study

The authors of the survey analysed different aspects of the CIS arbitration market and came to the following conclusions on the number of CIS disputes, amounts of claims, preferred arbitration centres and rules, applicable law, arbitrators, representatives, parties etc.

Number of CIS Disputes

The number of disputes (and the cost thereof) in connection with commercial companies from CIS countries is rapidly growing if compared with global indices (approximately 30% growth over the last 10 years).

Fields of Commerce

Most claims arose out of supply, share purchase, loan and shareholders agreements. Traditionally the largest claims (those exceeding one billion USD) are connected with disputes in the oil and gas sector.

Amount of Claims

The largest claim settled in international arbitration is larger than the largest claim settled in the state commercial courts. Almost one third of major global disputes are connected with CIS countries. This is due to the role of the oil and gas sector in the economy of the region’s countries. Around one third of global cases exceeding one billion USD are related to disputes in this region.

Preferred Arbitration Centres and Rules

Commercial enterprises from Russia and other CIS countries traditionally prefer two regional arbitration centres – the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine – and three global ones – the ICC, LCIA and SCC. The leading centre in terms of the number of settled disputes is the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. The leader by this metric among global ones is the ICC.

In the coming years one should expect a growth in the number of disputes heard in the South-East Asian arbitration centres – Hong Kong and Singapore – given the increased commodity exchange between these two regions.

The most popular arbitration rules are the LCIA Rules, Rules of the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, ICC Rules and SCC and UNCITRAL Rules.

The most often used arbitration rules in disputes with CIS companies*
LCIA 41.3%
ICAC Russia 38.1%
ICC 38.1%
SCC 33.3%
ICAC Ukraine 4.8%
VIAC 3.2%
Gafta Rules 3.2%
ICSID 1.6%
Swiss Rules of International Arbitration 1.6%
FOSFA 1.6%

*The survey allowed several variants of choice.

Applicable Law

The most popular applied law in international disputes involving participation of parties from Russia and the CIS is English, Russian, Swiss and Swedish law. The most popular jurisdictions for arbitration are the UK, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and France.

The most popular applied law in disputes with CIS companies* 
English   55.9%
Russian 50%
Swiss 14.7%
Swedish 11.8%
German 4.4%
Ukrainian 2.9%
International treaties 1.5%

*The survey allowed several variants of choice.


The most active companies (in terms of number of disputes) in the international commercial arbitration sphere in the CIS are Russian (46%) and Ukrainian (41%) ones. Kazakh companies are a long way behind (6%). Russian companies are the leaders among the CIS countries both in terms of the number of claims and the amounts demanded.


A characteristic feature of the legal services markets in the international commercial arbitration sphere in the CIS is the domination of international law firms, with some of them not even opening an office in the region.  At the same time national law firms have specialised international commercial arbitration practices on the two largest markets in this field – Russia and Ukraine – representing clients, chiefly, in domestic arbitration centres. Frequently international law firms and local law firms work jointly on projects.

The CIS market for international investment arbitration is also notable for the domination of international law firms. Ukraine is an exception, the country quite often hiring local law firms to represent its interests in investment disputes.

Over 86% of in-house counsels draw external legal consultants to represent their companies’ interests in arbitration. The main factors which have an influence on the selection of external legal consultants are: experience, internal policy of the client, recommendations and specialism in the issues of the dispute. The cost of legal services is important but not the main factor. Meanwhile, in-house counsels consider fixed amount of legal costs an advantage.


Arbitrators in CIS international arbitration centres are usually legal scholars, though there is a tendency for a greater number of practising lawyers among arbitrators.

Arbitration Market in the CIS

The arbitration market in the CIS will become even more segmented thanks to the growing specialisation of arbitration centres, arbitrators, lawyers and law firms. Certain centres will deal with financial disputes, others will deal with construction disputes and others energy disputes etc.

There is a low level of services market integration in the international commercial arbitration sphere in separate CIS countries and no or a serious lack of information exchange between experts in this field. However, there are good chances for the establishment of a uniform legal services market in the international commercial arbitration field in this region. This is explained not only by economic, political and legal prerequisites but cultural ones as well (the most popular language of arbitration proceedings in the CIS is Russian).


The survey contains the rating of the best practices in the CIS international arbitration market. Baker & McKenzie, Muranov, Chernyakov & Partners, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, White & Case, Sayenko Kharenko, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Baker Botts are named among the leaders of the rating.

The study also named Vladimir Khvalei, Alexander Muranov, Maxim Kulkov, Anton Asoskov, Nina Vilkova, Ivan Marisin, Noah Rubins as leading specialists in international arbitration.

See summary presentation of the survey results (in Russian).

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