Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Gulf Co-operation Council Commercial Arbitration Centre

The British Prime Minister's visit to the Gulf earlier this month had a clear sales mission ("David Cameron in the Gulf: Defence sales 'legitimate'" BBC 5 Nov 2012). Sales require contracts and sensibly drawn up contracts contain choice of jurisdiction clauses. I have already discussed extensively the common law courts in Dubai and Qatar and the Bahrain Camber for Dispute Resolution in "Bahrain: a Forum for the Resolution of IP and Technology Disputes?" 30 Jan 2011. There is, however, another forum in Bahrain, namely The Gulf Co-operation Council Commercial Arbitration Centre ("GCCAC"),

Although the GCCAC is in Bahrain it is a Gulf Co-operation Council institution rather than a Bahraini one.   According to its Charter, which can be downloaded from the GCC website together with its Rules of Procedure, the GCCAC was established by the governments of the GCC states at their 14th summit meeting in Riyadh in December 1993 and each of the GCC member states is represented on its Board of Directors.   The Charter and Rules of Procedure were approved by the GCC governments in November 1994 and the GCCAC opened for business on 19 March 1995.

Art 2 of the Charter provides:
"The Centre shall have the power to examine commercial disputes between GCC nationals, or between them and others, whether they are natural or juristic persons, and commercial disputes arising from implementing the provisions of the GCC Unified Economic Agreement and the Resolutions issued for implementation thereof if the two parties agree in a written contract or in a subsequent agreement on arbitration within the framework of this Centre."
According to the chapter on the GCCAC in WikiMediation, it resolves disputes relating to "banks, financial institutions, insurance, reinsurance, constructions, engineering, various contracting, intellectual property covering commercial and industrial, copyrights, and all types of international commercial contracts."

Art 10 of the Charter provides:
"An Arbitral Tribunal shall be formed by appointing a single arbitrator or three arbitrators as may be mutually agreed upon by the parties under an Arbitration Agreement or Contract.  In case there is no Agreement, the Rules of Procedure issued by the Board of Directors shall be applicable."
The arbitrator must be "a legal practitioner, judge or a person enjoying a wide experience and knowledge in commerce, industry or finance" and he "must be reputed for his good conduct, high integrity and independent views" (art 11). Such arbitrator may, but does not have to be, selected from a panel prepared by the chambers of commerce of the GCC member states.

Interestingly, art 2 (1) of the Rules of Procedure requires arbitration agreements to "preclude the reference of the dispute before any other authority" and also "any challenge to arbitration award passed by the Arbitral Tribunal."  Art 2 (2) proposes the following text for an arbitration agreement:
"All disputes arising from or related to this contract shall be finally settled in accordance with the Charter of the Commercial Arbitration Centre for the States of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf."
An arbitration is started by a written application to the Secretary-General of the GCCAC containing the following information:
(1)  The full name, address, nationality and capacity of the applicant;
(2)  The full name, address, nationality and capacity of the other party;
(3)  A statement of the nature of the dispute annexing relevant documents;
(4)  The name of the arbitrator (if any); and
(5)  A copy of the arbitration agreement and related documents (art 9 of the Rules of Procedure).
If everything is in order and all fees are paid, the documents are sent to the other side who has 20 days in which to respond which can be extended for a further 20 (art 11).
Art 29 requires the tribunal to apply the following principles in resolving the dispute:
1. The contract concluded between the two parties as well as any subsequent agreement between them.
2. The law chosen by the parties.
3. The law having most relevance to the issue of the dispute in accordance with the rules of the conflict of laws deemed fit by the Tribunal.
4. Local and international business practices.
Arbitrators have power under art 28 to make interim orders such as 
"ordering the deposit of the goods with third parties or sale of the perishable items thereof in compliance with the procedural rules in the country where the interim measure is adopted."
Members of these chambers would be glad to advise and represent parties to technology licensing or other intellectual property disputes before arbitrators appointed under these provisions.   Further information can be obtained from +44 161 850 0080 or you can send a message through my contact page. You can also follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter.

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