On 13 December 2021, the Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Waqf issued Resolution No. 134 of 2021, published in the Official Gazette on 23 December 2021 and effective as of 24 December 2021, promulgating a new set of procedural rules to govern disputes falling under the jurisdiction of the BCDR Court under Section 1 of Chapter 2 of Legislative Decree No. 30 of 2009 with respect to the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (Section 1 cases).
The 2021 procedural rules revoke and replace the previous procedural rules issued by Resolution No. 65 of 2009.
The new rules introduce a number of provisions governing issues not previously addressed, along with amendments to a number of existing provisions. Emphasis has been placed on the use of electronic means for filing submissions, claims, and documents, and for carrying out notifications in disputes before the Chamber. For these purposes, the Chamber has developed and made available for users the appropriate platforms for electronic submissions.
Significantly, the new procedural rules entitle parties to agree on the use of English as the language in Section 1 cases (Article 5) if:
- the contract underlying the dispute is drafted in a language other than Arabic;
- the agreement on the choice of English as the language of the proceedings is recorded either in the underlying contract, or in correspondence between the parties to the contract, or in a separate agreement; and
- the agreement on the choice of English is submitted during the case management phase and within the time frame specified for such a submission in the timetable for the case.
The newly introduced rules also grant the parties the right to appoint an expert on their own initiative, either jointly with, or independently from other parties. If necessary, the parties may request leave from the Tribunal to enable the expert to commence his or her assignment, by requiring the parties and relevant third parties to facilitate the work of the expert.
Amendments have also been made to several provisions governing the management of cases by the Chamber, and the consideration of the dispute by the tribunal, to align the practice and newly introduced features under the new rules.
Among the amendments to the provisions governing case management is a shorter case management phase, reduced from four months renewable once, to sixty days renewable once. The provisions governing the selection of the third member of Section 1 tribunals from the roster of neutrals have also been amended. The new rules have established a selection committee for this purpose comprising the CEO of the Chamber as Chair, two members nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council, two members nominated by the Chamber's Board of Trustees, one member nominated by the Minister of Justice, one member nominated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, one member nominated by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and one member nominated by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This committee is charged with selecting individuals to be included on the roster, who have the requisite expertise to hear a given dispute based on the fields of expertise set out in the roster. The roster will be periodically reviewed and updated at least once a year.