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China: CIETAC Amends Arbitration Rules

On 19 November 2014, the Chinese International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), China's most important arbitration commission for international trade, unveiled amended arbitration rules. With effect from 1 January 2015, the new arbitration rules apply to all new arbitration proceedings filed as of that date, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The new rules provide for changes to the administrative structure, introduce procedural changes (including emergency arbitration) and award a special position to the CIETAC office in Hong Kong.

The most significant structural change to the CIETAC is that the former secretariat has been replaced by an arbitration court. Case management is no longer the General Secretary’s responsibility, but is now handled by the newly established Arbitration Court. In future, the secretariat will be limited to the management of the CIETAC.

Furthermore, an emergency proceeding has been introduced. Similar to the amended arbitration rules of the ICC, the CIETAC Rules of Arbitration now provide for the possibility of an emergency arbitrator. As in the ICC rules, the parties can expressly opt out of emergency proceedings, but to the extent that they agree to apply all of the new CIETAC arbitration rules, the possibility of emergency arbitration is included. In addition to the introduction of an emergency arbitrator, the new rules provide for a few additional procedural changes, including the possibility of third-party notice and consolidation of arbitration cases arising out of or in connection with several contracts. Finally, some of the new rules relate to procedures in Hong Kong, where the CIETAC has established an arbitration center. There are special rules for proceedings in Hong Kong that deviate from the rules for domestic procedures in mainland China.

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