As of 1 October 2014, the London Court of International Arbitration’s (LCIA) new rules (the LCIA Arbitration Rules 2014) take effect bringing about wholesale changes to the powers of LCIA arbitrators.

The rules retain time-based fees and charges, one of the distinctive and most attractive features of arbitration conducted under LCIA Rules, but seek to adopt other innovations which are already used by other arbitral institutions. The new rules apply to any LCIA arbitration commenced from that date (unless parties agree otherwise) and are intended to make the LCIA arbitration process quicker, more efficient and less costly.

Changes have been made to almost every rule under the old LCIA Arbitration Rules 1998. Key features of the new rules include:

  • The ability to apply for an “emergency arbitrator” (Article 9B) to provide parties with recourse to urgent relief before the arbitral tribunal has been appointed. The temporary arbitrator will be appointed by the LCIA Court within 3 days (or as soon as possible) of the application, and the claim will be decided as soon as possible, but no later than 14 days of the arbitrator's appointment. For arbitration agreements entered into prior to 1 October 2014, parties will need to expressly opt into these provisions. The new rules still provide for expedited formation of the tribunal where there are grounds for “exceptional urgency” (Article 9A).
  • A significant increase in the express powers of the tribunal (Article 22.1), including powers to consolidate arbitrations (Articles 22.1(ix) and (x)).
  • The inclusion of provisions specifically aimed at promoting efficiency of proceedings by introducing:
      • Encouragement to parties and the tribunal to make early contact and by no later than 21 days of the tribunal being constituted (Article 14.1);
      • A timetable for making the final award (Article 15.10);
      • The option to file the Response and the Request electronically (Articles 1.2 and 2.3);
      • A requirement that potential arbitrators declare that they are "ready, willing and able to devote sufficient time, diligence and industry to ensure the expeditious and efficient conduct of the arbitration" (Article 5.4); 
      • Shorter time limits for the filing of the Response and any Statements of Case (Articles 2.1 and 15).
  • Ethical Guidelines for parties' legal representatives which must be complied with (Annex to the new rules). Failure by a party’s named legal representative to comply with the Guidelines may attract sanctions (Articles 18.5 and 18.6, and Annex).
  • Provision that the law applicable to the arbitration agreement will be the law of the seat, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the parties (Article 16.4).

These rule changes are a positive development and should ensure that LCIA arbitration continues to be a highly regarded and very popular choice for parties.

For further information concerning these rule changes or LCIA arbitration generally, please contact Nick Burkill, Tim Maloney, John Lurie, Matthew Blower or Peter Tannion.