Is there a specific approach to settlements in arbitration in the Middle East and Africa and if so, what would that be? This was the guiding question of a discussion with Ismail Selim, Director of the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) and Victor Mugabe, Secretary General of the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC). The event was convened within the framework of the DIS-Taskforce Settlement Facilitation on 20 September 2023.
CRCICA is a well-established regional arbitration institution. CRCICA for a long time has been playing a key role in arbitrations in the MENA Region extending far beyond its host country Egypt. KIAC, in contrast, was launched in 2012 and is a more recent, but particularly dynamic and innovative institution based in Rwanda.
Both the CRCICA and the KIAC Rules do not deal with settlements. This is not really surprising, given that Article 26 DIS-Rules is somewhat of a German specificity. The panelists nevertheless agreed that the arbitral tribunal may promote settlement discussions and may even provide preliminary views on the case as long as the parties so agree. The panelists however were reluctant to imposing this as a duty on the arbitrators and instead emphasized party autonomy. Asked about suggestions for a revision of Article 26 DIS-rules, it was proposed to make this an option rather than an obligation: the arbitral tribunal “can” facilitate settlements at every stage of the proceedings (rather than “shall”).
The event, moderated and convened by Kilian Bälz and Hartmuth Hamann, was also an attempt of expanding the regional scope of DIS to the emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East, an area that so far did not obtain a lot of attention at DIS. It goes without saying that Africa and the Middle East are large and extremely diverse regions – also when it comes to dispute resolution. Nevertheless, the lively and rich discussion demonstrated that the benefit is not limited to expanding the regional reach of DIS. It also shows that this has an important contribution to make to debates such as relating to the revision of Article 26 DIS-Rules.