Ismail Selim and Dalia Hussein of The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration provide a detailed breakdown of the centre’s work
The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) is an independent, non-profit, international organisation established in 1979 under the auspices of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO). The Headquarters Agreement concluded in 1987 between AALCO and the Egyptian government recognised CRCICA’s status as an international organisation, and accorded the centre and its staff privileges and immunities, insuring its independence.
The centre is composed of: 1) A board of trustees comprising 25 eminent African, Asian and European experts, which holds annual meeting to examine CRCICA’s performance and financial situation; 2) An advisory committee composed from among the members of the board, in addition to other eminent Egyptian and international experts, to carry out the functions provided for in the by-laws of the advisory committee, including for instance, deciding on requests for challenge of arbitrators and requests not to proceed with arbitration proceedings; 3) A director; 4) A deputy director; and 5) Three associate directors respectively heading the following three departments: dispute management; conferences, training and external relations; and administrative and financial affairs, as well as a number of counsel, case managers and other professional staff.
CRCICA’s Arbitration Rules are based on the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, adapted to the CRCICA’s role as an arbitration institution and appointing authority. The rules reflect best practice in the field of international institutional arbitration. Their amendments in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2011 aimed to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their users. The 2011 amendments, in force since 1 March 2011, are based on the new UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as revised in 2010 with minor modifications to adapt to the CRCICA’s role as an arbitral institution and an appointing authority. These amendments modernised the rules to promote the efficiency of the arbitral proceedings through many provisions, including, inter alia, introducing a mechanism to form tribunals in multi-party arbitrations (Article 10) and adjusting the original tables of costs to ensure more transparency in the determination of the arbitrators’ fees (Table 2 and 3 annexed to the Rules).
In 2017, CRCICA launched the French version of its Arbitration Rules, available in both Arabic and English until that date.
In 2013, CRCICA launched its Mediation Rules and has administrated a number of mediation cases.
The registration fee is a flat fee of $500 to be paid by the claimant upon filing the notice of arbitration and by the respondent upon filing a counterclaim (Article 43 of CRCICA Arbitration Rules).
Administrative fees and the fees for the arbitrators are calculated on the basis of the amounts in dispute in accordance with the schedule of costs annexed to the CRCICA Arbitration Rules. A costs calculator is available on the centre’s website. The administrative fees charged by the centre include the free use of the service of a secretary and high-tech hearing rooms.
Arbitration costs at CRCICA are reasonable and cost effective. According to a Global Arbitration Review (GAR) report titled ‘Arbitration costs compared’, dated 25 January 2018, the centre ranks as the cheapest institution in the case of one arbitrator and among the top three cheapest for three arbitrators in cases worth $1m. For cases worth $500,000, CRCICA is the cheapest institution irrespective of the size of the tribunal. For disputes worth $5m, CRCICA sits at the middle of the table for three-member tribunals. For disputes worth $10m, CRCICA costs continue increasing in comparison to its position in disputes of lesser amounts. For the $100m disputes, CRCICA nearly occupies the middle ground for three-member tribunals. The curve then retreats, featuring CRCICA among the most affordable for sole-arbitrator disputes worth $500m. For sums in disputes exceeding $3m, the arbitrators’ fees are determined based on Table 3, annexed to the Rules, and which comprises a minimum and a maximum scale of fees. Such a spectrum fits the different profiles of arbitrators and suits the users’ needs.
Activities and experience
CRCICA provides neutral and efficient full services related to the administration of domestic and international institutional arbitrations, the services of a secretary and high-tech hearing rooms. It also provides technical, logistic and administrative assistance to ad hoc arbitration cases and to proceedings under other institutions’ rules.
‘Other local organisations look to CRCICA for inspiration.’
Global Arbitration Review
Being the oldest arbitration institution in the African continent and the MENA region, CRCICA has a wide experience. To date, it administered more than 1,248 cases, many with international elements. It has also administered a few treaty-based investment cases, since arbitration before CRCICA is provided for in many bilateral investment treaties (BITs) (including, for instance, the 2001 Egyptian-Austrian BIT; BITs between Egypt and the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon; and the BIT between Libya and Morocco).
CRCICA administers cases in all types of economic and commercial activities. Based on CRCICA’s statistics, construction and contracts for works cases, media and entertainment ranked at the top of types of disputes for a number of years. CRCICA has also administrated cases in multibillion-dollar oil and gas and waste management industries, as well as telecommunications.
Recognitions and awards
CRCICA has received many recognitions and awards. In its ‘Assessment Report of Arbitration Centres’, prepared by Werner Jahnel, a partner at LALIVE, published in 2014, the African Development Bank recognised CRCICA as one of the best arbitration centres across the African continent and recommended it for use by parties from both Africa and elsewhere. The report stressed that CRCICA fulfils the bank’s important requirement for a neutral venue even in cases of commonality of origin between one of the parties to the arbitration (notably if it is the state party) and the state in which the centre is located.
The latest recognition is its addition to the GAR Whitelist of Regional Arbitration Centres as of November 2016. With this respects, GAR states that CRCICA is the ‘“granddaddy” of arbitration in the region, to quote one source. It’s been operating for 35 years, during which time it has administered more than 1,000 cases, many with an international element. Other local organisations look to it for inspiration’.
‘It’s been operating for long enough to have encountered most situations at least once. It’s also well managed. Together these factors see it described as “the current class of the field” in the Middle East.’
Ismail Selim (pictured), director, and Dalia Hussein, deputy director, The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration