The Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR-AAA) participated in the 2018 Arab Lawyers Forum, collaborating with organizers Al Tamimi Law & Co. alongside the Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Law Firm, Hassan Radhi and Associates Law Firm, Zu'bi & Partners Law Firm, Thomson Reuters and Deloitte. Supported by the International Bar Association (IBA), the forum was held between 28 February and 1 March 2018 at the Rotana Amwaj Hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Now in its third year, the forum aims to foster cooperation among legal professionals in the region at a time of great change and unprecedented activity in the international legal landscape. The third edition was attended by some 120 practicing lawyers from countries in the region and beyond, including Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
In her opening statement, Sheikha Haya bint Rashed Al Khalifa, chair of BCDR-AAA's Board of Trustees, stressed the importance of the forum as a professional meeting place for lawyers. She referred to the creation in 2009 of the BCDR-AAA, which includes a specialized commercial court (the "BCDR Court"), whose uniqueness lies in its successful harmonization with both the local legal environment and international legal standards. Sheikha Haya also spoke of Bahrain's adoption in 2015 of the 2006 version of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, which became the law governing arbitration in Bahrain, applicable to both domestic and international commercial arbitration.
IBA Executive Director Mr. Mark Ellis addressed the forum via a video link and stressed the forum's importance and the need to redouble efforts to further strengthen relations between the IBA and the Arab world.
BCDR-AAA's Chief Operating Officer Mr. Ahmed Hussain was a speaker in the session entitled "Harmonization of Arbitration in the Arab World." He referred to the adoption by BCDR-AAA's Board of Trustees in October 2017 of the new BCDR-AAA arbitration rules (the "Rules"). He explained that the Rules followed the best practices of administering institutions, arbitrators and lawyers, while also taking into account the specific mission of the BCDR and its regional and international environment. The result, he assured the audience, is a set of rules that conform with the highest international standards.
Mr. Hussein described some of the most important changes introduced by the new Rules. One of these was the inclusion in the request for arbitration of a statement summarizing the relief or remedy sought without providing a complete brief, the purpose of which was to ensure equality between the parties in terms of the time allowed to submit the request for relief and the defense. This saves the respondent from having to submit a response to a complete brief in a much shorter time than the claimant would have had to prepare its full legal brief if this were included in the request for arbitration.
He also told the audience how the new Rules deal with the appointment of arbitrators, challenges against arbitrators, and the submission of such challenges in writing to the Chamber, parties and the arbitral tribunal. He explained that if all parties do not agree with the challenge or the challenged arbitrator does not resign, BCDR-AAA determines the challenge, after seeking further information, if necessary and appropriate, from the challenged arbitrator, the parties and any other members of the arbitral tribunal.
Mr. Hussein also discussed the new Rules' provisions on tribunal secretaries and expedited procedure, drawing attention to the monetary value of the claims that command the application of the expedited procedure, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. He pointed out that under the expedited procedure the tribunal consists of a sole arbitrator, who conducts the arbitration as deemed appropriate to the nature and circumstances of the case and the expedited nature of the procedure. He further mentioned the time limits set by the Rules for issuing the final award and for the interpretation or correction of an award.
BCDR-AAA's support and participation in the forum and similar events was described by Professor Nassib G. Ziadé, BCDR-AAA's CEO, as stemming from its belief in the importance of partnership and interaction with professional legal communities in all matters related to arbitration at local, regional and international levels.