March 7, 2018

The new DIS arbitration rules 2018

On 1 March 2018, the new arbitration rules of the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) came into effect. The new DIS arbitration rules 2018 (DIS Rules 2018) replace the DIS arbitration rules of 1998 (DIS Rules 1998). The new rules are applicable to all arbitration proceedings initiated from 1 March 2018 onwards.

The new DIS Rules 2018 include a number of changes which aim to make the arbitration proceedings more time- and cost-efficient. In addition, integrity and fairness of arbitration proceedings are enhanced through new institutional structures.

For the purpose of more time-efficient arbitration proceedings, the DIS Rules 2018 provide for noticeably shorter deadlines than the DIS Rules 1998. Instead of 30 days under the previous rules, going forward the Respondent shall notify its nomination of an arbitrator to the DIS within 21 days after receipt of the Request for Arbitration. Similarly, the party-appointed co-arbitrators shall jointly nominate the president of the arbitral tribunal within 21 days of being requested to do so by the DIS (instead of 30 days under the previous rules).

The new DIS Rules 2018 requests the Respondent to file an answer to the Request for Arbitration ("Answer") within 45 days following the receipt of the Request for Arbitration. The previous DIS rules of 1998 did not provide for any set time-limit for the submission of the Answer. Instead, the arbitral tribunal would set such time-limit after its constitution, which in practice often caused substantial delays of the proceedings.

Further, the DIS Rules 2018 gives the parties incentives for efficient conduct during the proceedings, as they expressly entitle the arbitral tribunal to take account of the extent to which the parties have conducted the arbitration efficiently when allocating the costs of the arbitration.

The DIS Rules 2018 do not only require time- and cost-efficient conduct by the parties, but also by the arbitral tribunal. To ensure time-efficient proceedings from the outset, the arbitral tribunal shall hold a case management conference with the parties in principle within 21 days after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal. In such a case management conference, the arbitral tribunal shall discuss with the parties the applicable procedural rules, the procedural timetable as well as measures to conduct the proceedings more efficiently, the possibility of expedited proceedings and an amicable resolution of the dispute.

The arbitral tribunal is required to submit its award to the DIS for review in principle within 3 months after the last hearing or the last authorised brief. In case of delayed submission of the award, the newly established Arbitration Council may, at its discretion, reduce the fees of one or more arbitrators. The review by the DIS is limited to observations regarding the form of the award and non-binding modifications. As under the DIS Rules 1998, the arbitral tribunal bears the responsibility for the content of the award.

The newly established Arbitration Council ensures integrity and transparency of the arbitration. The Arbitration Council decides on any challenge of an arbitrator, a responsibility which was previously on the arbitral tribunal. Furthermore, the Arbitration Council may remove an arbitrator if, in its view, the arbitrator is not fulfilling the arbitrator's duty or is not in the position to fulfil such duties in the future.

Further essential changes under the DIS Rules 2018 include detailed provisions with respect to multi-contract and multi-party arbitration, the joinder of additional parties and the consolidation of arbitrations. Additionally, the DIS Rules 2018 provide for a more active role of the DIS in the administration of the arbitration. For instance, the DIS is now responsible for fixing the deposit to be paid by the parties for the fees and expenses of the arbitrators and requesting such deposit from the parties. In addition, the DIS Rules 2018 expressly provide for confidentiality of the arbitration.

In conclusion, the new DIS Rules 2018 provide a modern and appropriate regulatory framework promising time- and cost-efficient arbitration.