Bahrain is set to play a more prominent role in dispute resolution and arbitration, said a top official of The International Chamber of Commerce ( ICC) International Court of Arbitration.
“Ten years ago, there were no cases coming out of Bahrain,” said ICC International Court of Arbitration secretary general Jose Ricardo Feris.
“Over the last five years, more than 40 parties have participated from Bahrain and in 2011, six cases were seated in the country.”
The ICC has updated its rules and regulations to incorporate the growing diversity of its member countries.
“The new rules take into account Bahrain’s investment climate and commercial climate of the global economy,” said ICC Bahrain board member Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, at the opening of the ICC Rules of Arbitration and Training Conference at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel Residence and Spa.
The need for change reflected in a more universal approach to arbitration, said Feris. A broader approach had to be adopted in order to solve business and trade-related disputes.
A few guiding principles were taken into account before enforcing any change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the expert said.
“We made only genuinely necessary changes to rules. We have enabled greater presence of state and state entities in ICC arbitration.”
The number of cases received by the court from newer and players of growing importance was another motive behind the changes. “In 1998, we received around 400 cases per year,” he said.
“Between 2008 and 2009, we began receiving 800 cases per year. The increase in the number of cases is not purely mathematical as the demographics of the countries are quite different,” he added.
“In 1998, the top five important players were still traditional countries, such as Germany. But now the top five list has countries such as the UAE, Turkey, Brazil, which have emerged as very important players,” said Feris.
These players brought in different cultural experiences, traditions and the ICC had to respond to the needs of these countries. ICC rules need to be revised in order to address the needs of more diverse countries, he observed.
Changes such as taking into account situations where no contracts had been signed between parties now form part of the rules, he added.