Contractual Dispute Resolution in International Trade: The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) and the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980)
Griffith, Gavan, Mitchell, Andrew D., Melbourne Journal of International Law
CONTENTS I Introduction 184 II Conciliation or Arbitration 185 III UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) 187 A Ad Hoc and Institutional Arbitration 187 B Background to the Arbitration Rules 188 C Overview of the Arbitration Rules 188 1 Introductory Rules: Section I 188 2 Composition of the Arbitral Tribunal: Section II 189 3 Arbitral Proceedings: Section III 191 4 The Award: Section IV 193 D Notes on Organising Arbitral Proceedings 195 E Influence and Acceptance of the Arbitration Rules 195 IV UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980) 197 A Key Features of the Conciliation Rules 197 B Conciliation Process 198 C Influence and Acceptance of the Conciliation Rules 198 V Working Group on Arbitration 199 VI Conclusion 199
Over the past few decades, international commercial dispute resolution has witnessed substantial change and improvement. A notable feature has been a move away from the traditional court-based litigation model, allowing exploration of other methods and techniques. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (`UNCITRAL') has played an important role in this development of alternative dispute resolution. Since its establishment in 1966 UNCITRAL has made improving international commercial dispute resolution one of its priorities. (1) Two important achievements arising from its efforts are the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) (`Arbitration Rules') and the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980) (`Conciliation Rules'). (2) The products of active participation of international experts from various legal, economic and social backgrounds, both have made a significant contribution to the more efficient resolution of international commercial disputes.
Both sets of Rules are based on agreement between the parties, operating on a private contractual rather than public statutory level. This is an important point which distinguishes the Rules from UNCITRAL's other major achievement in dispute resolution: the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (`Model Law'). (3) The Rules are a form of contractual trade law dispute resolution. Since the expectations of the private parties to an arbitration or conciliation under the Rules risk being frustrated by the domestic laws of different countries, the Model Law provides countries with a template that they can adopt for their national laws in order to `provide a hospitable legal climate for international commercial arbitration.' (4)
This article intends to serve as an introduction to the Rules. We begin by distinguishing conciliation from arbitration and explaining the comparative strengths and weaknesses of these two forms of dispute resolution. We then give an outline of the Arbitration Rules in the context of ad hoc and institutional arbitration generally, followed by an assessment of the influence and acceptance of the Arbitration Rules. We provide a similar analysis of the Conciliation Rules, before concluding with a look at the likely development of the two sets of Rules in the future.
II CONCILIATION OR ARBITRATION
The search for alternatives to traditional court-based litigation has resulted in a variety of forms of dispute resolution, which vary in their degrees of complexity, flexibility and formality. These include: arbitration, assisted negotiation, counselling, conciliation, evaluation, expert appraisal, mediation and mini-trials. …