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Updated: Nov 17, 2023

May 17, 2023

Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration’s publishes new and improved Arbitration Rules.

What has happened?

On 1 May 2023, the Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) announced the publication of a series of new and improved Rules. The new Rules apply to any arbitration filed with the SCCA on or after 1 May 2023.

The Rules are available here.

What is new?

  • Creation of the SCCA Court – Perhaps the most significant update is the creation of a dedicated court, which is made up of 15 arbitration experts from various legal backgrounds. The SCCA Court holds power over key administrative aspects of the arbitration process, such as appointing or replacing arbitrators, fixing costs and approving awards. Decisions by the SCCA Court are final and binding.

  • Early disposal of claims or defences – Tribunals can now determine issues relating to jurisdiction, evidence and legal merits without going through all of the usual steps.

  • Consolidation of parallel arbitrations – Multiple arbitrations can now be consolidated into one when parties agree, or when claims come from the same agreement or legal relationship.

  • Multi-contract arbitration – Disputes relating to multiple contracts or arbitration agreements can be heard under one set of arbitration proceedings.

  • Disclosure of third-party funders – Parties must now disclose the identity of any third-party funder that is funding their case.

  • Encouraging parties to settle – Tribunals can now encourage parties to settle the dispute (e.g., via negotiation or mediation).

What is improved?

  • Greater use of technology – Notices of arbitration can now be served by email and Tribunals have the power to order that all documents be filed electronically.

  • Process for appointing/challenging arbitrators – A streamlined process and stricter time limits for appointing (or challenging the appointment of) arbitrators.

  • Process for jurisdiction challenges – Challenges to a tribunal’s jurisdiction are now subject to a strict deadline.

  • Tribunal powers – Tribunals now have more powers over proceedings to ensure they remain efficient and cost-effective, such as:

    • Deciding the dispute on a “document-only” basis.

    • Limiting the length of submissions and evidence.

    • Deciding the scope of evidence to be given by witnesses and experts.

    • Holding hearings virtually.

  • Case management – Some of the rules relating to general case management have been streamlined and tightened to reduce scope for delay.

Award and costs –The rules relating to the delivery and correction of an arbitral award, and the sharing of costs have been revamped.

Our view

The new Rules represent a significant upgrade, offering more detail, guidance, and certainty in the arbitration process. Most importantly, the Rules put the SCCA on par with major international arbitration institutions, and we expect the SCCA to give some serious competition to regional players such as the Dubai International Arbitration Centre, the ADGM Arbitration Centre, and the Bahrain Chamber of Dispute Resolution.

The SCCA aspires to become the region’s go-to place for alternative dispute resolution by 2030. The new Rules are a major step in the right direction and undoubtedly bolster the Kingdom’s image as an arbitration-friendly jurisdiction.

This material is provided for general information only. It does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Contract Nathan Hooper for more information:

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