REUTERS | Ricardo Moraes

It has been said that: “[a]s Vietnam solidifies its position as a highly attractive destination for investment, it is expected that the inflow of investments would be even greater, and with it, an increasing demand for international arbitration as a means of dispute resolution”(Asian International Arbitration Journal, Volume 18 Issue 1, L Chen & Nguyen S V, Rising Giants: Charting the Growth of Arbitration in Vietnam and China).

Of the arbitral institutions commonly used in disputes with a Vietnamese nexus, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), and Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) are the most prominent. No doubt sophisticated parties will consider the differences between the arbitral rules before deciding on the most suitable one for each transaction.

We take a closer look at the VIAC Rules in this article. The current VIAC Rules were released in February 2017, and introduced new provisions on consolidation and expedited procedure. 2023 is an apt time to rethink the 2017 Rules. Of which, three aspects may merit a rethink.

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REUTERS | Thomas Mukoya

Arbitration: 2022 in review

2022 will be remembered as the year that the world moved from pandemic disruption to geopolitical chaos. While many of us welcomed the return to international travel, in-person hearings, and our offices, the biggest story was undoubtedly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ⁠and the seismic shift that has followed.

While the cost of living crisis and an eventful year in British politics held the public’s attention, arbitration practitioners were as busy as ever, with significant commercial disputes moving ahead, the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) becoming increasingly controversial, and major court decisions in Canada, US and elsewhere. Read on for our recap of the year in arbitration.

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REUTERS | Kim Hong-Ji

For over ten years, BCLP have conducted an annual survey on issues affecting the arbitration process. This year’s survey focuses on the reform of the English Arbitration Act 1996, a topic chosen to coincide with the Law Commission’s ongoing consultation on reform of the legislation.

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REUTERS | Pavel Mikheyev

In ARI v WXJ, the English High Court adopted a “pragmatic approach” to determine whether an arbitrator had been validly appointed in a London-seated arbitration, holding that an appointment required first, that the arbitrator had given a “clear and unequivocal communication of acceptance”, and secondly, that the appointing party acted on the acceptance by communicating the appointment to the opposing party (paragraph 22).

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REUTERS | Gleb Garanich

The winter of our discontent

It is not news that Europe has been hit hard by soaring energy prices. Power generators that had been shut down during the COVID-19-related economic downturn could not be ramped up in time to meet the increased demand as lockdowns waned. A prior long, cold winter had already depleted the amount of gas in storage, while droughts caused by global warming shut down hydro and nuclear plants. The situation was exacerbated by European sanctions in response to the events in Ukraine (and Russian retaliation). Gas prices in Europe have since risen to more than 10 times their historical average values due to a depletion of Russian natural gas supply, a major source of power for electric generators and home heating on the continent. The final nail in the coffin was the shutdown of the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the biggest Russian gas pipeline to Europe, on 2 September. Continue reading

REUTERS | Kim Hong-Ji

In a recent set aside action, the Singapore Court of Appeal (SGCA) has once again demonstrated its pro-arbitration stance. Being a Model Law jurisdiction, the Singapore courts will only set aside arbitral awards on limited grounds, for example, for breach of Singapore’s public policy and breach of natural justice. In CEF and other v CEH, the SGCA had the opportunity to consider whether the “no evidence rule” should be adopted as a specific rule of natural justice such that an arbitral award would be liable to be set aside for breach of natural justice if it contains findings of fact made with no evidential basis whatsoever. The SGCA declined to adopt the rule, reaffirming Singapore’s policy of minimal curial intervention in arbitral proceedings.

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REUTERS | Joseph Campbell

In the first post-Brexit case concerning the interface between arbitration law and consumer protection law, the Court of Appeal (CA) in Soleymani v Nifty Gateway LLC partially overruled the lower court’s earlier ruling declining a stay of court proceedings in favour of arbitration. The decision’s impact on consumer arbitration in the UK remains to be seen.

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REUTERS | Gary Hershorn

The first mission of NASA’s Artemis Program, Artemis 1, is scheduled to launch at 12.07am EST on Monday 14 November. The Artemis Program seeks, among other things, to re-establish a human presence on the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, as well as to establish sustainable exploration of the moon with both commercial and international partners by 2028. We may be at the beginning of what has been called the “lunar gold rush”, where natural resources in outer space will be explored and extracted. This, however, poses a legal dilemma. Who will have the property rights to these natural resources? Without an answer to that question, it will be difficult to assert legal rights over the assets derived from space. Once that question is answered, it will pave the way for a new field of disputes ideally suited for resolution by international arbitration.

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REUTERS | Alexandre Meneghini

Last week, the Law Commission published its first consultation paper as part of its review of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the “Act”). The stated aim of the review has been to ensure that the Act remains “best in class”: an approach based upon fine-tuning, rather than root and branch reform. This is borne out by the consultation paper, which proposes relatively few changes. Nonetheless, the paper contains some notable and very welcome proposals for change and clarification, which we outline and comment on below. Continue reading