The United Arab Emirates amends its legislation on arbitration

The United Arab Emirates recently enacted Federal Law No. 15 of 2023 (the “Amendment Law”), introducing changes to its arbitration legislation relating to virtual proceedings, restrictions on the appointment of arbitrators, and the autonomy and discretion of the arbitral tribunal. The main changes can be summarised as follows:

Conduct of proceedings and virtual proceedings: Article 28 of the Amendment Act allows the parties to agree on the conduct and venue of the arbitration, which can be conducted virtually using modern technology or in “technical environments”. In addition, Article 33 establishes that unless otherwise agreed by the parties, arbitral proceedings and hearings shall be conducted in camera and grants the arbitral tribunal the authority to decide, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, whether to hold oral hearings to present evidence or oral argument, or to rely solely on documentary evidence.

Appointment and duty of disclosure of arbitrators: Article 10 introduces the duty for arbitrators, throughout the proceedings, to disclose in writing all circumstances likely to give rise to doubts as to their impartiality or independence and prohibits the appointment of arbitrators with direct links to the parties that are likely to affect their impartiality, integrity or independence.

Autonomy of the parties and discretionary power of the arbitral tribunal: Article 23 of the Amendment Act reaffirms the autonomy of the parties to decide on the procedure to be applied by the arbitral tribunal to the conduct of the arbitration and confers on the tribunal the authority to decide on the procedure to be followed in the absence of an agreement by the parties on the matter.




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