International Arbitration in the Time of COVID-19

Navigating the Evolving Procedural Features and Practices of Leading Arbitral Institutions

July 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health crisis with no clear ending in sight.

It has already provoked one of the most significant contractions of the global economy in a generation, and continues to adversely impact virtually every business sector.  

Arbitration proceedings (and the arbitral institutions which administer them) have not been immune from these effects.  As a result, they have been forced to swiftly adapt to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic.  Critically, this has led to: (i) the promotion and adoption of electronic case management tools; (ii) pressure on arbitral tribunals and parties to convene fully virtual hearings; and (iii) the promulgation of myriad protocols and guidelines relevant to these novel procedures.

As the pandemic continues to ebb and flow throughout the world, the future remains particularly uncertain and many of these adaptive arbitration features may be in place for a significant period.  It is therefore essential that arbitral tribunals and arbitration users are well informed of the manner in which arbitral institutions are conducting proceedings in the current climate.  It is equally important that arbitral tribunals and practitioners become familiar with the many new resources which have recently become available; particularly electronic features with which they may have little experience.

This Alert Memorandum outlines how leading arbitral institutions have adjusted their operations (and adapted their institutional rules) in response to the pandemic; highlights some of the new procedural features which are likely to be frequently utilized going forward; and sets out a list of resources recently promulgated or promoted by those institutions to support arbitral proceedings conducted in the time of COVID-19.

The German-language version of this alert is available, here