On 23 November 2015 in Bucharest (Romania) the regular annual meeting of the ICC European Arbitration Group took place. The delegation of the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry composed of Mykola SELIVON, President of the Court and Olena VASYLENKO, Vice-Secretary for International Affairs of the ICAC took part in the above meeting. This year’s meeting was co-organized and hosted by the Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania.
The ICC European Arbitration Group annually gathers the heads of the international arbitral institutions of Central and Eastern Europe and experts in order to exchange information on current developments and best practices in the field of international commercial arbitration, to establish new relations and contacts for cooperation.
The ICC European Arbitration Group meeting 2015 was devoted to the presentation, exchange of views and questions on the activity reports of the international arbitral institutions that are members of the European Arbitration Group. In addition, the meeting brought up for discussion a separate question concerning the appointment of arbitrators and arbitral institutions’ guarantee regarding their appointment.
Alexis MOURRE, President of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, Mihai DARABAN, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania, and Stefan DEACONU, President of the Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania, opened the meeting with welcoming speech. In particular, Alexis MOURRE noted the important role of the European Arbitration Group in the activity of international arbitral institutions as well as told the participants of the meeting about the future prospects of the Group, in particular about the expansion of its activities and strengthening the position in 2016, thus setting the working rhythm of the meeting and targets for its fruitful results.
The core issue at the Group’s meeting was the presentation and further discussion by its participants of the most important issues and events in the activities of the arbitration courts. The representatives of 10 arbitral institutions (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, France) made their reports at the meeting, focusing mainly on the number of cases registered during the reporting period, the applicable Rules of the arbitral institutions, new laws and regulations related to arbitration, current problems of arbitration, competition issues, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, innovations, and the most important events in the activity of the institutions.
Mykola SELIVON, President of the ICAC at the UCCI, in his speech presented to the participants of the meeting the most important information on the activities of the arbitral institution at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sharing information on a record number of cases registered during the reporting period, despite the well-known events in Ukraine, at the same time reminding the participants that the ICAC at the UCCI considers only foreign economic disputes. President of the ICAC at the UCCI touched upon the issue of the origin of the parties, the number of arbitrators involved in the cases considered by the ICAC, noted a number of measures taken to improve the legal regulation and organization of international arbitration in Ukraine, in the preparation of which the ICAC at the UCCI took and takes an active part. Highlighting the issue of popularization of international arbitration and active operation of the arbitral institutions at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the international arbitration community Mykola SELIVON informed the Group on the inclusion of the ICAC at the UCCI in the list of non-governmental organizations invited to participate in the sessions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and its working groups and present the views of their organizations on matters relating to arbitration. In addition, in his speech the President told about III International Arbitration Readings in Memory of Academician Igor POBIRCHENKO held in November 2015 – a key event among the various forms of work to promote the activity of the ICAC at the UCCI, having emphasized a special significance of this year’s Readings in view of their conduct under the auspices of UNCITRAL – the main United Nations body in the field of international trade. Mykola SELIVON also drew attention of the participants to the active stage of modernization, technical re-equipment, implementation of new means of communication in the work of the ICAC at the UCCI, in order to provide more comfortable conditions for the participants of the arbitral proceedings and their representatives.
Although the statistical indices of quality and success in the work of the ICAC have almost doubled in recent years, during his speech the President of the ICAC at the UCCI expressed his concern about the processes currently taking place around arbitration in Ukraine. In particular, addressing the meeting participants, Mykola SELIVON informed them that the representatives of certain governmental bodies under pretence of the reform of international commercial arbitration started to give instructions for changes in the organization and operation of the ICAC, in particular, in the procedure of appointment of arbitrators, conduct of the arbitral proceedings, for «resetting the ICAC», which is a gross violation of the principles of arbitration. Since the ICAC at the Ukrainian CCI has become a respectable arbitration body of the European level over the period of its operation, in order to create favorable conditions for good arbitration in Ukraine, the government should further go the way of minimum intervention into the arbitration process and that approach should above all follow the «do no harm» principle. Mykola SELIVON in his speech once again emphasized the fact that, if in such a way one could change what has been formed for over 20 years and has been formed on the basis of generally accepted principles and norms of international arbitration contained in the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, New York and European conventions, it would lead to irreversible and difficult to restore consequences. Given the situation, at the end of his speech, President of the ICAC at the UCCI proposed the ICC European Arbitration Group, established to support and promote the activities of member-arbitral institutions, contrary to a set tradition, holding the next meeting in Ukraine in autumn 2016, to coincide with the annual international conference in memory of Academician Igor POBIRCHENKO. All participants were invited to visit Kyiv.
The meeting also considered the issue of the appointment of arbitrators and arbitral institutions guarantees regarding their appointment. During the discussion, the participants were trying to determine how arbitrators are found and selected by arbitral institutions, how arbitral institutions guarantee their diversity, impartiality, integrity in the appointment process and arbitration, what mechanisms could be implemented by arbitral institutions to ensure that the appointment process is not tainted by corruption or undue influence of the party. Different views were expressed. During the meeting, President of the ICAC at the UCCI participated in discussions, presenting commentary and examples of practice of the ICAC at the UCCI.
To promote arbitral institutions at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the delegation of the ICAC, in addition to active participation in the ICC European Arbitration Group meeting also took part in the international conference «Arbitration in Eastern Europe. Trends and Developments» organized by the Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania on 24 November 2015. The common problems of modern arbitration, as well as features of its development on the example of separate countries were brought up for discussion of the conference. About 100 participants took part in the conference, including representatives of the academic and university science, law firms, arbitrators of the Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania as well as representatives of foreign arbitral institutions.
President of the ICAC at the UCCI Mykola SELIVON spoke on «International Commercial Arbitration in Ukraine: status and trends of development», told about the peculiarities of arbitration in Ukraine, the benefits of Ukrainian jurisdiction, the process of modernization of the ICAC at the UCCI, challenges that currently faces arbitration in Ukraine and about the work on its improvement; about the ICAC’s contribution to the improvement of arbitration climate in the country by way of active development of proposals to amend the legislation on international commercial arbitration and the ICAC Rules caused by the latest experience of the world’s arbitral institutions and implementation in the specified regulations the innovations of UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
The report of the President of the ICAC at the UCCI aroused genuine interest among the audience, as well as a discussion on its completion.