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New Swiss Arbitration Centre and Revised Swiss Rules

The Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution (SCAI) announces its transition into the Swiss Arbitration Centre, as well as the entering into force of the revised Swiss Rules. 

The Swiss Arbitration Centre

Taking effect at the end of May 2021, the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution (SCAI) will be converted into a Swiss limited company and renamed Swiss Arbitration Centre Ltd (the Swiss Arbitration Centre). The Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) will take the lead as majority shareholder, working closely together with the Swiss Chambers of Commerce, which will continue to support the Swiss Arbitration Centre as shareholders and through their extensive networks. The reorganization ensures that users will continue to be served at the highest standard in the future. 

The conversion of SCAI into the Swiss Arbitration Centre does not affect the validity of existing arbitration or mediation agreements referring to SCAI or any cantonal Chambers of Commerce.

The Board of Directors of the Swiss Arbitration Centre is composed of four members nominated by ASA (Bernhard Berger of Kellerhals Carrard in Bern as President, Domitille Baizeau of Lalive in Geneva as Vice President, Pierre-Yves Gunter of Bär & Karrer in Geneva, and Gabrielle Nater-Bass of Homburger in Zurich) and three members nominated by the Chambers of Commerce of Basel, Bern, Central Switzerland, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, and Zurich (Andreas Meier, Chamber of Commerce of Basel, Regine Sauter, Chamber of Commerce of Zurich, and Vincent Subilia, Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services Geneva).

Bernhard Berger of Kellerhals Carrard in Bern, President of the Board of the Swiss Arbitration Centre, comments: “The transformation of SCAI into the Swiss Arbitration Centre is a milestone for Switzerland as a place of arbitration. It combines the strength and energy of the ASA community  with the network and experience of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce. Together, we will be able to provide our trusted users around the world with even more efficient and effective services than before.”

Regine Sauter, the Director of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce and Member of the Board of the Swiss Arbitration Centre says that the new organisation can serve companies worldwide in their needs of dispute settlement even more efficiently while profiting from the long experience and tradition of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce in that area.”

Vincent Subilia, Director of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services, points out that “as a pioneer in arbitration, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services is delighted to pursue its historical commitment within this consolidated leading institution, which shall serve the need of both national and international corporate actors, and to host its management team within its premises.”

Revision of the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration

On 1 June 2021, after a revision process that included in-depth consultation of practitioners and users, the revised Swiss Rules of International Arbitration will enter into force. The revised Swiss Rules implement the conversion of SCAI into the Swiss Arbitration Centre and contain further updates for the purpose of continuously providing an efficient and reliable arbitration framework to parties around the world. 

Key changes include refined provisions on multi-party and multi-contract proceedings and several amendments to streamline the proceedings, allowing for paperless filings and supporting remote hearings when needed.  

The revised Swiss Rules of International Arbitration can be consulted and downloaded here.

Xavier Favre-Bulle of Lenz & Staehelin in Geneva, President of the Court of Arbitration since January 2021, emphasizes the purpose and extent of the revision: “No revolution was required for rules that have proven themselves to be very efficient and appreciated since they were enacted in 2004 and revised in 2012. With this 2021 revision, essentially triggered by the corporate changes, the drafters succeeded in striking a right balance between maintaining party autonomy and flexibility that are fundamental to the Swiss Rules and at the same time strengthening the role of the supervising institution to ensure proper case administration of all types of arbitrations, even the most complex ones“.

Arbitration cases already pending under the 2012 Swiss Rules of International Arbitration will continue to be administered under those Rules by the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Arbitration Centre, with the assistance of the Secretariat. 

To reflect the new legal structure, the 2019 Swiss Rules of Mediation are also being revised, with their substance remaining the same.

Launch Event on 22 June 2021

These developments will be presented  at a virtual launch event scheduled to take place on 22 June 2021, put together by a task force led by Chris Boog of Schellenberg Wittmer in Zurich and Singapore. This very special event is free of charge and you may register as of 1 June 2021 on the website www.swissarbitration.org.

Felix Dasser of Homburger in Zurich and President of ASA comments: “With the new structure under the leadership of ASA and the revised Swiss Rules, Switzerland continues to be perfectly positioned to welcome arbitration users from all over the world looking for  thoroughly transnational arbitration with a Swiss quality stamp.