On 25 January 2023, the influential and widely read arbitration journal Global Arbitration Review ("GAR") held its "GAR Live" conference in Abu Dhabi on the theme "Forecasting future disputes." The conference was co-chaired by Alec Emmerson, independent arbitrator, and Lara Hammoud, Senior Legal Counsel, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and independent arbitrator.
Following an introductory keynote address by Alexis Mourre, former President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and founding partner of MGC Arbitration, on the topic of regular reforms of arbitration laws and regulations, BCDR CEO, Professor Nassib G. Ziadé, took part in the conference's opening panel on the topic "Where is arbitration in the Middle East heading?"
The panel was chaired by Alec Emmerson, with co-panelists Christian Alberti, Head of ADR, General Counsel, Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration; Ali Al Hashimi, Managing Partner, Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel; Graham Lovett, member, Board of Directors and Arbitration Court of the Dubai International Arbitration Centre. Professor Ziadé addressed the topic "Whither BCDR without AAA (American Arbitration Association)?"
Professor Ziadé remarked that in 2021, BCDR was granted full administrative and financial autonomy by the Bahraini government. Reflecting this full administrative autonomy and financial independence, the formal relationship between BCDR and AAA, on which BCDR (formerly known as BCDR-AAA) was founded, was brought to a most amicable close as of 31 December 2021, with the mutual agreement of both sides.
Describing the evolution of the relationship between BCDR and AAA, Professor Ziadé recalled that when the decision had been taken to establish BCDR, the founders looked to a well-functioning, internationally recognized and "friendly" arbitral institution for tutorial support in its establishment.
A Memorandum of Understanding was concluded at the end of 2008 between the Bahraini Ministry of Justice and AAA by which AAA was to provide BCDR technical advice, administrative know-how, and training for staff, arbitrators and mediators. BCDR-AAA launched its operations in 2010, and there was extensive cooperation between AAA and BCDR in the early years.
By 2013, the BCDR had grown and matured, and from that time it maintained a high degree of independence from AAA in its day-to-day work. All case management decisions were taken by BCDR alone and BCDR operated its budget fully independently. BCDR launched its arbitration journal in 2014 as the BCDR International Arbitration Review, recognizing that this publication was entirely independent of AAA. Since 2013, all BCDR training programs and Vis Pre-Moots have been organized by BCDR alone. And, looking outward, BCDR signed a cooperation agreement with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.
When BCDR reviewed its arbitration rules in 2015, the AAA's then new rules of 2014 were but one of many sources that were consulted by the BCDR rules review committee. The committee also referred to the latest rules of leading international and regional arbitration institutions, as well as to the 2010 UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. As a result, the rules embodied the best standards in international arbitration, while being suitably tailored to local and regional needs.
AAA in turn developed activities with other arbitration institutions in the region, while remaining a partner with BCDR. There was a mutual understanding that BCDR and AAA could each explore different avenues independently.
Throughout the years of partnership, the main involvement of AAA in the work of BCDR was through senior AAA representatives being members of the BCDR's Board of Trustees. Their contributions were invaluable.
Professor Ziadé noted that notwithstanding the termination of their formal relationship in 2021, BCDR and AAA agreed to maintain cooperative relations and BCDR acknowledged with warm thanks the important contributions of this relationship to the recognition of BCDR's international standing, which is now fully established. The ongoing cordial and supportive relationship between BCDR and AAA is illustrated by the continued presence of the AAA President as a valued member of the BCDR's Board of Trustees.
For more details on the 2023 GAR Live Abu Dhabi, click here.