Switzerland Attracts CIS Parties by Not Applying EU or US Sanctions

Arbitration-Swiss1Arbitration-Swiss1Arbitration-Swiss1Arbitration-Swiss1swiss lawCIS Arbitration Forum continues its series of interviews with representatives of major international arbitration institutions working on disputes related to Russia and the CIS region.

The idea is to provide updates from major arbitration institutions and their efforts to improve services rendered to arbitration users from the region.

Today we publish an interview with Philipp Habegger, President of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution.

CIS Arbitration Forum:  Do you see any trends in the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution (the “SCAI”) arbitration workload related to the CIS region?

Caseload involving Eastern European and CIS parties has remained stable, accounting for about 5% of the SCAI caseload. The SCAI had the first case under the Swiss Rules with Russian as the language of the proceedings. The seat was in Geneva.

At the same time, parties from Russia accounted for the fourth largest nationality for all cases with a seat in Zurich between 2010 and 2014. If one adds other CIS parties plus CIS/Russia-controlled entities from the BVI and Cyprus, parties from the region form the third largest geographic user group of Swiss Rules arbitration with a Zurich seat.

CIS Arbitration Forum: How often is Russian law applied to the substance of the disputes?

There was only one case so far.

CIS Arbitration Forum: How often are the disputes heard by Russian-qualified arbitrators?

We have Russian-qualified arbitrators here and then.

The case conducted in Russian had two Russian co-arbitrators and a Swedish chairman.

CIS Arbitration Forum: Are Russian parties mostly claimants or respondents?

There is no specific pattern. Overall CIS parties are slightly more often respondents. In one of our largest cases in the past years (USD 950 mio.

 in dispute, with the final award rendered in July 2015) the claimant was Russian.

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

Sanctions did not have a notable impact on the workload. We have seen enquiries from parties that wanted to move their case from the ICC to us, because Switzerland is not applying the EU or US sanctions. The SCAI is therefore not particularly concerned about sanctions. Case administration is not impaired. On occasions some coordination with the banks administering our funds is required.

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

We are concentrating the administration of cases to three secretariats, one in each language region of Switzerland (ie Geneva, Lugano, Zurich) with a view to further professionalise our services and to further increase consistency of service. Further, the position of executive director has been created. The person in charge, Ms Caroline Ming, is a former in-house litigation counsel at SGS Société de surveillance with vast experience in international arbitration from a user’s perspective.

She will further improve our services to meet user demand. Already now, however, we are probably the institution which renders its administrative decisions faster than any other (usually within two business days).

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

We have had a more active presence in the CIS in the immediate past: II Annual International Conference,“The Future for Arbitration in Russia. Asia in Focus” was organised by the Russian Arbitration Association, and the Seventh ABA Annual Conference on the Resolution of Disputes (Moscow, September 2015) was organised to make clear to CIS users that we offer a seat and institutional services less impaired by the sanctions than other institutions, without the need to agree on remote venues in Asia and with a legal system which is very similar to that known in the CIS countries.

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