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Statement on the Global Arbitration Ethics Council Discussions

27.11.2015 - As announced earlier this year, an informal working group chaired by the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) held yesterday a discussion at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva on the concept of a Global Arbitration Ethics Council

This meeting included representatives of the following arbitration associations and institutions: the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), the International Bar Association Arbitration Committee (IBA), the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Swedish Arbitration Association (SAA), the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), the Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institution (SCAI), the Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC), and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center.

The International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the Inter-Pacific Bar Association Arbitration Committee (IPBA) and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), who were also invited to take part, were unable to do so for various reasons including the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

The attendees held a very open and constructive discussion on the practical impact that issues of counsel ethics can have on arbitral proceedings in international arbitration. These issues have been highlighted in recent years in part by the publication of the IBA Guidelines on Party Representation, and specific provisions of the latest LCIA Rules.  Yesterday’s discussions focused inter alia on whether there is a need for an international structure that is separate and distinct not only from arbitral tribunals and institutions but also national bar councils. The participants also exchanged views on the interaction between ethical issues that can be raised by counsel’s conduct and the existing powers of arbitral tribunals and institutions to ensure the orderly conduct of the proceedings, to decide on admissibility of evidence and to weigh evidence, and possibly arbitrators’ conflicts, because these issues are sometimes commingled with “ethics” (which may cloud the debate).

The discussion was held under the Chatham House Rule. Although no agreement was reached on the proposal for the creation of a Global Arbitration Ethics Council, participants agreed to continue discussions and thanked ASA for its continued efforts to establish the basis for a consensus on how to best deal with ethical issues in arbitration.

It was agreed that the activity of this working group will continue and further meetings will be organized in the future.

ASA – Swiss Arbitration Association
27 November 2015

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