At its inception, BCDR operated in partnership with the American Arbitration Association. However, in 2022, reflecting BCDR's full administrative autonomy, financial independence and self-sufficiency as a now-leading regional arbitration centre, this partnership was brought to an amicable close with the mutual agreement of both sides.
BCDR's achievements and standing were recognized by the influential and widely read arbitration journal, Global Arbitration Review (GAR), in an award for the 2021 regional arbitration institution that impressed. The GAR Guide to Regional Arbitration has since added BCDR as one of only two arbitration institutions in Africa and the Middle East to its "White List."
BCDR has a board of trustees fulfilling the primary governance role, and a casework secretariat overseen by the Chief Executive Officer (since 2013, Professor Nassib G Ziadé). The board comprises eight members and is chaired by Sheikha Haya Bint Rashed Al-Khalifa, a former president of the UN General Assembly.
The secretariat includes a chief registrar (since 2010, Mr. Ahmed Husain) and a case management team of lawyers and caseworkers, who are fluent in English, Arabic and French, and who undertake continuing professional development to ensure maximum competence in the performance of their duties.
The BCDR Court
In accordance with its founding statute (Bahraini Legislative Decree No. 30 of 2009 and its amendments), the BCDR Court has jurisdiction over disputes falling originally within the jurisdiction of the Bahraini courts, where the claim exceeds 500,000 Bahraini dinars (about US$ 1.3 million) and at least one party is a financial institution licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, or the parties are licensed companies under the Commercial Companies Law enacted by Legislative Decree No. 21 of 2001, or the dispute is of an international commercial nature.
The BCDR Court also has jurisdiction by virtue of the Real Estate Regulation Law No. 22 of 2017 over real estate disputes where the claim exceeds BHD500,000 and the dispute arises out of an off-plan sale, usufruct rights, utilization and development (Musataha) rights or long-term lease rights, lease to own (Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek) rights or lease rights, or where the dispute relates to the Owners' Union, or arises out of real estate works or projects or real estate rights specified by a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
Finally, the BCDR Court also has jurisdiction over disputes relating to trusts that are governed by Legislative Decree No. 23 of 2016.
The BCDR Court rules of procedure encourage the use of electronic means for the filing of submissions, memoranda and other communications.
The BCDR's Arbitration and Mediation Centre
The mandate of BCDR's arbitration and mediation centre is to administer cases in dispute in which the parties have contracted for arbitration under the BCDR arbitration rules, or for mediation under the BCDR mediation rules, or under non-institutional rules or procedures chosen by the parties for administration by BCDR.
Parties in these cases may be local or foreign individuals, businesses or government entities, contracting not only in the Gulf region, but in any jurisdiction beyond this immediate region. BCDR's arbitration and mediation rules provide extensively for secure electronic means of filing, communications and hearings.
BCDR's current arbitration rules and mediation rules came into effect in 2022 and 2019, respectively, and are available in English, Arabic and French. Both sets of rules include features that enhance the procedural and time and cost efficiency of arbitration and mediation and accessible fee schedules aimed at moderating the cost of arbitration and mediation.
In 2022, BCDR published specialized sports arbitration rules, dedicated to resolving disputes in the sporting world and to contributing to the development of sports law and arbitration in Bahrain, with a view, over time, to attracting a wide range of sports arbitration cases, regionally and internationally.
In addition to routinely acting as appointing authority in all disputes administered under its rules, BCDR acts as appointing authority in ad hoc arbitration and mediation proceedings. In its capacity as appointing authority, in addition to making arbitral appointments, it decides challenges against arbitrators and mediators appointed under its rules or ad hoc rules and holds deposits and reviews costs and fees incurred.
Facilities and services
BCDR's purpose-built facilities include state-of-the-art hearing and meeting rooms, breakout rooms for arbitrators, mediators and parties, translation booths and equipment, digital audio/video recording, videoconferencing and on-site technical support.
These facilities are used not only for BCDR hearings, but also for ad hoc arbitration and mediation proceedings (including those conducted under the UNCITRAL Rules), for seminars, meetings and other outreach events.
BCDR views training and education as an integral part of its mission and holds training sessions and workshops on arbitration and mediation for judges, lawyers, in-house counsel, experts and other professionals. It also supports the training of law students interested in international commercial arbitration, having organized and hosted, since 2011, the Middle East Pre-Moot prior to the Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, in collaboration with the US Commercial Law Development Program and the University of Pittsburgh.
BCDR regularly organizes international arbitration and mediation conferences, bringing together leading regional and international dispute resolution practitioners, academics and policymakers.
BCDR also participates, on behalf of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in the working sessions of the UNCITRAL Working Groups. It has drafted Bahrain's official submissions to Working Group II on Expedited Arbitration, and Working Group III on Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform.
BCDR produces a biannual scholarly law journal, the BCDR International Arbitration Review, with articles and case decisions in both Arabic and English - each issue focusing on a topic of universal interest in international arbitration, with an emphasis on relevance to the Arab region. Topics have included the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in the Arab states of the Gulf, women's voices in international arbitration (part 1) (part 2), arbitration in Egypt, investment arbitration in the Middle East, construction arbitration in the Middle East, the BCDR 2017 arbitration rules (part 1) (part 2), oil and gas arbitration in the Middle East, third-party funding in international arbitration, international mediation, conflicts of interest in international arbitration (part 1) (part 2), and online dispute resolution.
In addition to the Review, BCDR has launched a series of publications honoring Arab scholars and practitioners who have promoted international arbitration and international law.
BCDR expects to publish new rules specifically to govern disputes in Islamic finance, as well as rules for the administration of proceedings conducted under ad hoc, or non-institutional rules or procedures, notably the UNCITRAL arbitration rules.