International Arbitration Court at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
So, to deal with contract disputes, your company has selected international commercial arbitration instead of a state court. Great, you are probably already aware of the benefits of arbitration in general.
If your company's respondent comes from Belarus, it is logical to choose the Arbitration Court of your country or the International Arbitration Court at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry . Of course, it is always more convenient to play on 'home ground'. But you made a concession and chose the arbitration in Minsk instead of your country. What does this option do for a foreign business? Let's look into the peculiarities of the Belarusian arbitration.
The BelCCI Arbitration Court
The reputation of arbitration. The BelCCI Arbitration Court has been a permanent international arbitration institution in Belarus since April 1994. During 28 years of its work, it has gained good business reputation in the business community of participants of foreign economic transactions from the Eastern and Western-European region. This is confirmed by the statistics of arbitration proceedings (number of cases considered annually) as well as by the positive practice of enforcement of Belarusian arbitration awards in other countries. Venue of arbitration. The geographical proximity of the court is very convenient for a foreign company. Normally, the proceedings are held at the premises of the IAC at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce, unless otherwise agreed. But upon the request of the parties, the hearing can also be held online using videoconferencing.
The applicable law. Despite the choice of Belarusian arbitration, you are not bound by Belarusian law. The parties may choose any applicable law in the contract, including foreign law (e.g. your state), international law and international custom. The language of the arbitral proceedings. The language of the proceedings is also determined by the parties, taking into account the abilities of the arbitrators. For example, English. If no agreement can be reached, the case will be heard in Belarusian or Russian.
Confidentiality. By default, the case is heard by the arbitral tribunal of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a closed court session. If you do not want to draw attention to your dispute, a non-public process will come in handy. Information about your company's involvement in the arbitration is a trade secret.
Time limit for hearing a dispute. As a rule, the International Court of Arbitration at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is obliged to consider the case and make a decision within 6 months from the date of appointment of the arbitrators. In international arbitration practice such speed of consideration of foreign economic disputes is rare. The cost of the procedure. The IAC at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has one of the lowest arbitration fees among international arbitration tribunals. The rate depends on the value of your claim. To illustrate, the minimum rate for a claim under EUR 5,000 will be EUR 700 and EUR 22,825 for a claim of EUR 2,000,000. The arbitration fee is also subject to a 30 per cent reduction if the case is heard by a sole arbitrator.
All costs of the proceedings, including the costs of representation in arbitration, may be recovered from the losing party.Referring a dispute to arbitration. The statement of claim is submitted with the required number of copies: 3 copies for one arbitrator and 5 copies for three arbitrators. This also applies to all other procedural documents. The statement of claim must include the names, addresses and details of the parties; the claimant's claim and claim price; the applicable law and the rules of law to be applied; details of the arbitration agreement and compliance with the pre-trial procedure; a written proposal for the number of arbitrators and details of your selected arbitrators; details of your representative; a list of documents to be enclosed. Enclose copies of: a translation of the extract from the national register of your country confirming the legal status of your company; a translation of the document appointing the head of the claimant company; the power of attorney for the representative; the agreement (contract) with all annexes; the document confirming payment of the arbitration fee; and written evidence. All types of written and oral evidence are admissible: explanations of the parties, witness statements, expert evidence, etc. Proper evidence will be documents, electronic correspondence, photo, audio and video recordings, photocopies, extracts, printouts of electronic correspondence. Documents can be submitted on any means of electronic digital recording. Written evidence shall be submitted in the original language. The arbitral tribunal, on its own initiative or on the proposal of another party, may require a translation of the evidence into the language of the proceedings.
The participation of foreign companies in the Belarusian arbitral tribunal as defendants is similar.
Representation in arbitration.
There is no so-called "lawyer's monopoly" in Belarusian arbitration and any law firm with relevant arbitration and litigation experience can represent foreign businesses.
In international commercial arbitration, the parties belong to different legal systems and practice different legal traditions. Therefore, the representation in arbitration requires knowledge and understanding of the subtleties that distinguish it from the usual legal proceedings. For obvious reasons, if the company-representative is a resident of the Republic of Belarus, the chances of success in getting a decision in your favor increase significantly.
The Belarusian law company Economic Dispute LLC specialises in representation in international arbitration. Our lawyers have an excellent command of the full range of necessary skills, including practical experience of many years working as judges in state courts. And our knowledge of Europe's foreign languages allows us to communicate with foreign customers without an interpreter.
Recognition and enforcement of awards. An award of an international arbitration court is final, enters into force as soon as it is pronounced and is subject to immediate enforcement. Belarus, like the vast majority of European countries, is a member of the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Due to the New York Convention, 170 state courts all over the world recognise and enforce arbitral awards made by Belarus.
The postal address of the International Court of Arbitration at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is: 11, Kommunisticheskaya Street, room 320, Minsk, 220029. Tel./fax: +375 172 88-20-76 (67). The official ICA website in Russian and English is located at https://iac.by/.