Starting from January 1st, 2018, a new set of rules for either domestic or international arbitration proceedings organised by the Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (The Romanian Court of International Commercial Arbitration) are applicable.
Arbitration is an alternative jurisdiction to the regular state courts. The parties to an agreement have the option to decide that any litigation deriving thereof is to be submitted to an arbitrator (or a panel of arbitrators), which will issue a binding decision for the parties. Arbitration has more advantages, among which the most essential ones are: the celerity of the overall proceedings; the confidentiality of the case and of the information exchanged by the parties; the possibility to choose arbitrators with an extensive experience in specific industries or types of agreements, depending on the particularities of each case.
In order to meet the expectations of the business environment – which tends to submit the arising litigations to arbitration rather than to the state courts – the rules of arbitration of the Romanian leading arbitral institution have been updated and renewed. The changes in force as of January 2018 take into account the most recent developments of similar arbitration rules issued by the most reputed international arbitral institutions from Paris, Stockholm or Honk Kong.
The main principle applying to arbitration is freedom of the parties to choose the application of these arbitration rules of the Romanian Court of International Commercial Arbitration for litigations arisen between them. In this respect, a recommended draft of arbitration agreement is available in Annex I to the Rules. The parties are also free to agree on the number of arbitrators (an impair number, either one or three) and to appoint them, as well as to select the applicable law on the merits of the case. If there are justified reasons and with the observance of some conditions prescribed by the rules, the parties may request the appointment of an emergency arbitrator regarding the adoption of provisional or ensuring measures, such as the temporary cease of an action considered to be illicit or the preservation of evidence which could be altered.
The proceedings conducted by the arbitral tribunal comprise, as a general rule, a written stage and a hearing stage, in case the arbitrator(s) or the parties consider the latter necessary.
Thus, in the context of the written stage, after the claimant submits its request for arbitration and the respondent files its answer (and its counterclaim, if the case may be), the proceedings continue with a case management conference. The date of the conference, which can take any form ensuring a direct communication between all the participants to the proceeding, represents the final deadline for the parties to amend or supplement their reliefs. The parties can subsequently file additional memorials, in which they develop their position, as well as to submit evidence in support of their claims and defences.
The rules of arbitration also grant the parties the option to apply the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration, which comprise efficient solutions for an optimal selection and analysis of relevant evidence, including statements of witnesses, side expert reports and independent expert assessments. This represents a crucial change in the procedure for the administration of evidence, making possible the application of high professional standards in this respect.
The arbitral award is issued and drafted in maximum one month as of the date the debates are closed/the final written memorials are submitted, with the possibility to extend this term, based on a grounded request of the arbitral tribunal. The arbitral award communicated to the parties has similar effects to a regular court award and represents an enforceable deed.
In case of disputes amounting less than 50.000 lei or if the parties agree in respect thereof (considering also the particular circumstances of the matter in dispute), a simplified arbitration procedure conducted by a sole arbitrator is applicable. The maximum term for such emergency arbitration is of 3 months since the first arbitration date.
Finally, the new arbitration rules provide for more efficient ways for solving the dispute: the bifurcation of the proceedings, the rendering of partial awards, the partial or total settlement by parties’ agreement, the procedural calendar, the limitation of written evidence, others.
In order to remunerate the arbitration services rendered by the Court of International Commercial Arbitration, there will be charged a registration fee in amount of Euro 150 or the equivalent in Lei at the National Bank of Romania exchange rate of the day, as well as an arbitration fee consisting of an administrative fee and arbitrators’ fee.
The new rules for arbitration proceedings represent an important tool for the Romanian business community in the achievement of a rapid and cost balanced dispute settlement, by rendering an award as result of a professional exercise conducted in conformity with international standards.
(For more information, please see http://arbitration.ccir.ro/reguli-de-arbitraj).
STOICA & Asociatii extended its litigation practice during the years with a large number of arbitral disputes, either in front of Romanian arbitral institutions or in front of reputed international arbitration courts. Also, STOICA & Asociatii has a wide expertise in drafting or coordinating the drafting of legal opinions on Romanian law to be used as expert opinions in international arbitration. Some of the attorneys enjoyed experience as arbitrators or are involved in international work related to arbitration. Arbitration experience of the law firm covers mainly energy, construction, PPP and financial sectors.
Irina-Andreea MICU, partner lawyer, is a member of STOICA & Asociatii since 2007. She graduated the Law Faculty of the Bucharest University, as well as the College Juridique franco-roumain d’études europeennes. She has experience in arbitration, either in front of domestic or international courts andachieved an extended practice in IP and contract law, as well as in pharma, media and food sectors. She is fluent in English, French and Romanian.