As part of its 100-year anniversary in January 2017, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“SCC”) launched its new Arbitration Rules. The product was the result of a three-year undertaking by the Rules Revision Committee, who met regularly to discuss existing practices and to respond to user demand.
The SCC’s previous Rules from 2010 showed signs of ageing. In the last decade, the arbitration community has seen the rise of multi-party disputes, rules for transparency in investor-State cases, questions concerning the role of tribunal secretaries and calls for more efficient and better-tailored proceedings.
The latest Rules attempt to balance and accommodate these trends and issues.
General SCC Rules
Commencing SCC Proceedings
The SCC’s head office is in Stockholm, Sweden. It does not have any regional offices. A case starts by sending a request to the SCC Institute, according to Articles 6 and 8. The 2017 Rules apply to commercial arbitrations, but also include an Appendix outlining specific provisions for investor-State disputes.
The SCC provides alternative proceedings depending on the complexity and needs of a case. In 2017, the SCC launched its revised Rules for Expedited Arbitration (“Expedited Rules”). The Expedited Rules offer a streamlined process that is separate from the general Rules. To apply, the parties must agree to have their dispute resolved under the Expedited Rules either in the arbitration agreement or after the dispute has arisen.
The SCC Expedited Rules
Some significant features of the Expedited Rules include the following:
- Front-loaded cases: Articles 6 and 9 provide that the Request for Arbitration includes the Statement of Claim, and the Answer constitutes the Statement of Defence. By filing the main submissions before the time the arbitrator receives the case file, the parties save time and cost. Respondents are typically given four weeks after service to respond to the Request.
- Tightened timeline: Article 30 allows for each party to make one additional submission to the Request or Answer, and the arbitrator may request supplementary filings in compelling cases. However, pleadings must be brief and filed within 15 working days. Moreover, within seven days of a case referral, the parties and arbitrator will hold a case management conference.
- No hearing: Article 33 provides that a brief hearing may be held if a party requests it and if the arbitrator finds that special circumstances exist.
- Enhanced tribunal mandate: Article 24 places great emphasis on expediency and instructs the arbitrator to “consider at all times the expedited nature” of the proceedings. Therefore, the arbitrator has greater means to reject party requests for supplementary hearings and pleadings.
- Upgrade option: Parties have the option to “upgrade” their dispute to the regular Rules, depending on the complexity of the case (Article 11).
SCC Emergency Arbitrations
The SCC Rules allow for an emergency arbitrator appointment prior to the constitution of the tribunal. Parties may apply for the appointment of such an arbitrator under Article 37(4) and Appendix II. Where appropriate, the SCC Board shall appoint an arbitrator within 24 hours of the receipt of the application.
Turn-around time for relief, if it is granted, is quick. Any emergency decision on interim measures shall be made within 5 days from the date of application (Appendix II).
Parties may request an arbitral tribunal to decide on issues of fact or law via a summary procedure under the Arbitration and Expedited Rules (Articles 39 and 40). This allows cases to bypass certain procedural steps and to dismiss frivolous claims. A request for summary procedure covers various facets, such as jurisdiction, admissibility or the merits, and it may occur at any point during the arbitration.
SCC Investment Arbitrations
Unlike other institutes, the SCC Rules apply both to commercial and investment treaty disputes. Recognizing that the SCC Rules are the third-most used in investment disputes, a new Appendix applies to such cases.
One notable provision is the intervention of third parties. The Appendix allows third persons to request permission from an arbitral tribunal to make a submission. The arbitral tribunal may also, after consulting the parties, invite third parties to submit briefs on material issues related to the case.
Finally, confidentiality of proceedings is the default rule for SCC investor-State arbitrations, in contrast with the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency.
SCC Security for Costs Provision
A new provision, Article 38(1), explicitly permits an arbitral tribunal to order a claimant or counterclaimant to provide security for costs in exceptional cases. Failure to comply authorizes the tribunal to suspend or dismiss the party’s claims.
SCC Administrative Secretaries
Although arbitral secretaries have been a divisive issue in recent years, few rules regulate them. Article 24 of the SCC Rules, however, explicitly codifies existing SCC practice in this regard.
Under it, arbitral tribunals may propose to the SCC a secretary for appointment. If the parties agree, the SCC will formally appoint that secretary. Once approved, the secretary must sign a statement of impartiality and independence. Any challenges to remove an administrative secretary are based on the same grounds as arbitrator challenges.
SCC Multiparty and Multi-Contract Disputes
Finally, Articles 13 and 14 cover rules for joinder and multi-party proceedings.
Article 13 sets the acceptable procedural conditions under which additional parties may be joined. For its part, Article 14 codifies existing SCC practice in multi-contract disputes. In the latter scenario, parties may bring claims arising from several contracts in one proceeding, provided that the agreements are compatible.
The SCC’s decisions on joinder and multi-contract issues are preliminary. Ultimately, it is the arbitral tribunal that has the power to decide on jurisdiction once appointed.
Thomas W. Davis, Aceris Law LLC.
 Coming after the ICSID and UNCITRAL Rules.