In the year of 1437 H (2016), the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration (“SCCA”) drafted arbitration rules based on the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration Rules are available here.
Arbitration through the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration is designed to ensure that the procedure conforms with official Saudi rules and procedures. Arbitration will lead to a binding decision issued by a neutral arbitration tribunal which is enforceable according to the national arbitration laws and international conventions such as the New York Convention of 1379 H (1958) to which Saudi Arabia is a party.
The arbitration procedures of the Saudi Commercial Arbitration Center do include other rules in addition to the essential features of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. Their characteristics reflect the latest changes and developments in the field of institutional arbitration as well as the requirements of Sharia law.
The rules also include the best practices of leading international arbitration institutions as well as those of the International Center for the Settlement of Disputes. Among the modern additions listed in the rules is the possibility of resorting to arbitral proceedings in urgent matters in cases requiring immediate solutions and the appointment of an emergency arbitrator. Article 6(2) calls for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator within one day of filing a notice requesting emergency relief:
“Within one business day of receipt of the notice as provided in paragraph 1 of this Article, the Administrator shall appoint a single emergency arbitrator. Prior to accepting appointment, a prospective emergency arbitrator shall, in accordance with Article 13, disclose to the Administrator any circumstances that may give rise to justifiable doubts as to the arbitrator’s impartiality or independence. Any challenge to the appointment of the emergency arbitrator must be made within one business day of the communication by the Administrator to the parties of the appointment of the emergency arbitrator and the circumstances disclosed.”
The rules of the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration have been specifically designed to be compatible with the provisions of the Saudi Arbitration Law issued by the Royal Decree No. M / 34 for the year 1433 H (2012), which itself completely reorganised and modernised Saudi arbitration law.
The origin of the organisation of the arbitration proceedings remains based on the arbitration agreement concluded by the parties to the dispute. The parties to the conflict must comply with the procedures stipulated in the arbitration law issued by Royal Decree No. (M / 34) dated 24/5/1433, however.
It must further be borne in mind that the agreement in these systems must be in compliance with Islamic Shari’a. Hence, the Rules provide that the applicable law is without prejudice to the rules of Sharia:
“Article (31): Applicable Law
1. Without prejudice to the rules of Sharia, the Tribunal shall apply the rules of law designated by the parties as applicable to the substance of the dispute. Failing such designation by the parties, the Tribunal shall apply the law which it determines to be appropriate.”
It should be noted that Sharia contractual law is perfectly suited for resolving contractual disputes. It shares many similarities with both common law and civil regarding contractual disputes, with the only significant prohibition being the impossibility of awarding interest.
Overall, the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration’s rules are a modern and welcome addition to the expansion of world class international arbitration law and procedure in Saudi Arabia.
Taghreed Almashari, Aceris Law