BCDR launches new mediation rules

The Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR-AAA) is delighted to announce the entering into force today, 1 July 2019, of its new mediation rules, in English, Arabic and French, with all three versions being equally authoritative.

The new rules are a welcome addition to the legal framework for mediation in the MENA region. Their introduction has been timed to coincide with the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (also known as the 'Singapore Mediation Convention') which is intended to facilitate the cross-border enforcement of mediated settlements.

The Singapore Mediation Convention and BCDR-AAA's new mediation rules can reshape the Alternative Dispute Resolution landscape in the MENA region. They offer disputing parties in the global economy the prospect of settling their disputes at a far lower cost than more contentious dispute resolution mechanisms, and now with greater certainty and efficacy of enforcement, should the need to enforce settlement terms arise.

The new mediation rules in their English version are the product of a rigorous drafting process undertaken by the Rules Review Committee established by BCDR-AAA's Board of Trustees. The Committee comprises Adrian Winstanley OBE (former director-general of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)), Antonio R. Parra (former deputy secretary-general of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)) and Nassib G. Ziadé (BCDR-AAA's Chief Executive Officer). The French version of the rules was prepared by Fady Béchara (attorney-at-law, Lebanon), Salim S. Sleiman (Senior Case Manager at BCDR-AAA) and Nassib G. Ziadé, and the Arabic version by Ahmed Husain (BCDR-AAA's Chief Operating Officer), Faris K. Nesheiwat (attorney-at-law, Jordan), Salim S. Sleiman and Nassib G. Ziadé.

For consistency across the full range of BCDR-AAA's dispute resolution services, the Committee has harmonized the new mediation rules with BCDR-AAA's 2017 arbitration rules, taking care also to reflect current best practices in mediation, as reflected in the most recent rules and procedures of other major institutions.

In order to ensure that the new mediation rules also meet the specific needs of Bahrain and the wider MENA region, in February this year BCDR-AAA published a  draft  on its website, inviting comments  from practitioners and other interested parties, and consulted potential users for their review and feedback. The Committee carefully considered all comments received, reflecting those that it believed would enhance the rules in the final draft.

Like its arbitration rules, the new mediation rules reflect the strength of BCDR-AAA's commitment to delivering transparent and cost-effective dispute resolution services by clarifying and streamlining the process.

The following are among the most noteworthy provisions of the new rules:

  • greater detail and clarity regarding the procedure for commencing mediation, whether initiated by all, some or only one of the contracting parties, with or without a pre-existing agreement to mediate (Article 2);
  • clarification of the date of commencement of the mediation; being the date of receipt by BCDR-AAA of both request for mediation and filing fee in the case of a prior agreement to mediate, or (subject to receipt of the fee) the date on which all parties agree to mediate in the case of no prior agreement (Article 3);
  • simplification and acceleration of the process of selecting and appointing the mediator, and updated provisions on independence and impartiality (Article 4);
  • increased flexibility for parties and mediator in pursuit of a fair and expeditious outcome (Article 6);
  • the option for parties to commence or continue parallel arbitral or judicial proceedings (Article 11); and
  • a revised fee schedule aimed at maximum cost-efficiency and including a cap on mediators' hourly rates.

BCDR-AAA remains committed to providing flexible, multilingual and cost-effective dispute resolution services for domestic and international cases. To that end, BCDR-AAA will closely monitor any developments in the regional legal framework for mediation and will seek to ensure that its services always incorporate best practices in the field.

The English, Arabic and French versions of the new mediation rules are available on BCDR-AAA's website.