The globalisation process turned international arbitration into the preferred method of dispute resolution. As a result, countries recognise a market opportunity in the expansion of international arbitration and aspire to assert themselves as focal points for arbitration proceedings. There is a battle going on in the international arbitration field: the so-called ‘battle of the seats’. Different cities strive to be considered as ‘arbitration hubs’. In the arbitration parlance a hub is a place known for its reputation in hosting arbitration proceedings. International arbitration is very mobile, as by its own nature it can take place anywhere. Countries and cities all over the world compete to be chosen by the parties as suitable venues for international arbitration.
A noticeable trend in the arbitration market in the last years is a trend towards regionalisation. Markets are increasingly being integrated through economic regional organisations. As a result, arbitral institutions try to cater to such regional needs. This phenomenon led to the creation of arbitral institutions that aim at serving as arbitral hubs for such regional markets. Even though these institutions may develop to achieve a global status, they focus on regional disputes. This is what happens, for instance, with Singapore and Hong Kong for Asia; with Dubai for the Middle East; with Istanbul for Eurasia; and with Mexico City for Latin America. Regional markets are united by economic links and, in some cases, by a common language. Regional arbitral institutions are shaped to better address the cultural, linguistic, and economic specificities of such commercial relations.
Miami is not exactly a newcomer to this battle. In the last years Miami has promoting itself as a suitable arbitration venue, particularly in proceedings involving Latin American parties. In December 2013 the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court announced the creation of an International Arbitration Court designed exclusively to handle international commercial arbitration matters. The court will feature judges with specialized international arbitration expertise. The fact that the city was selected to host the International Council for Commercial Arbitration’s Congress, that took place between 6 and 9 April 2014, is an eloquent example of Miami’s rise as an emerging arbitration hub. Read more here, here, here, here, and here.
But besides Miami, there are several other cities interested in claiming a share of the market of international arbitration.
Saudi Arabia has set up a high-level committee to establish a commercial arbitration center for local and international commercial and civil disputes, under the Council of Saudi Chambers. The center will have branches inside and outside the Kingdom. Lawyers, legal arbitrators and businessmen described the decision to establish a Saudi commercial arbitration center as an important step in developing a conducive arbitration and investment climate in the country. Read more here and here.
On the other hand, according to new reports (here and here) the International Court of Arbitration is considering the opening of a regional center of the court in Istanbul after a draft law, which would allow the establishment of this, was submitted to the Turkish parliament on 25 March.
More to follow on this in the near future, surely.