CIS-Related Disputes in Stockholm On the Rise Because of the Economic Crisis

stockholm-arbitration-CIS Arbitration Forum is starting a series of interviews with representatives of major international arbitration institutions working on disputes related to Russia and the CIS region.

We hope the readers will appreciate updates from major arbitration institutions and their efforts to improve services rendered to arbitration users from the region.

The series starts with an interview with Natalia Petrik, Legal Counsel at the Arbitration Institute of Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

CIS Arbitration Forum: Do you see any trends in the SCC commercial arbitration workload related to the CIS region?

Any economic crisis impacts our figures directly. Normally there is a certain lag between the crisis and the rise but this time it happened in the same year, which suggests that changes are drastic. The turbulent economic situation in Russia and the region resulted in more disputes immediately.

Our caseload involving Russian parties has definitely increased. In the year 2013, for instance, we had 15 cases, and last year 26. That reflects a more than 50 per cent rise.

The nature of cases has not changed significantly. Half of the cases represent complicated disputes involving a variety of industries, for instance delivery of equipment, services and commodities. The other group consists of small, straightforward cases involving trade in goods.

We also have more cases from other countries from the region, in particular Kazakhstan and Ukraine. 

CIS Arbitration Forum: Do you see any trends in the SCC investor-state arbitration workload related to the CIS region?

There is a general trend of the rise in investor-state disputes at the SCC, although not restricted to the CIS region. Last year we had an all time record with 11 cases filed against states under the SCC Rules. However, there was no particular rise in the number of CIS-related disputes – here we observe our usual pattern. Much more disputes involve European countries these days.

CIS Arbitration Forum: What the SCC is doing to improve services it offers to users? 

We work in several directions. First, we diversify our services – as of this year we introduced new procedures for administration of cases under the UNCITRAL Rules, focused on appointments, challenge procedures and administration of costs. It is a rather interesting document.  I recommend reading it to those who consider using the UNCITRAL rules.

Another direction is improving communication with current and potential users. We have completely renewed our website, which contains more information presented in a much better way than before.

We also have a special channel for those interested in investment disputes – the ISDS Blog. Recently it focused on discussions around the inclusion of dispute resolution provisions into trade agreements, particularly the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

We continue to run the Swedish Arbitration Portal, which publishes judgments of Swedish courts on various aspects of international arbitration.

For Russian-speaking users we launched a new resource, Russia/Eastern Europe portal, providing, for example, information on the enforcement of SCC awards in various countries of the region, including summaries of domestic court judgments. It also contains our publications – all in the Russian language. The Russian translation of the book Arbitration in Sweden is now accessible on the website.

We have also started a mini-database of examples of documents filed in SCC arbitration such as requests for arbitration and replies to the request for arbitration. It will be particularly useful for the parties represented by their managers or in-house counsel.

The highlight of the last year was a two-day conference International Dispute Resolution in Sweden, which included a mock arbitration and a mock mediation.

CIS Arbitration Forum: Have the sanctions had any impact on the arbitration workload? Is the SCC concerned about it?

So far the sanctions have not had any impact on our work.

We concerned ourselves to provide information on this topic and to deal with misconceptions appearing on the Russian market and elsewhere about sanctions regulations.

Of course, the regulatory framework is rather complicated which causes misunderstandings. We have now posted on our site general information on sanctions and Q&A addressing frequently asked questions.

CIS Arbitration Forum: Any new initiatives/projects related to the CIS region for the nearest future?

We have scheduled seminars and conferences in Ekaterinburg, Moscow and other places, and all information is or will be soon available in the calendar of events on our website. We cooperate on a regular basis with universities and arbitral institutions, organise lectures, seminars and training in Russian and English. We have internship programmes for young arbitration lawyers and enjoy staying in contact with our alumni.

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