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14 Apr 2020

Key measures taken by arbitral institutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic


Following our initial briefing note on “Key measures being taken by the UAE Courts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic”, we summarise below the key measures being implemented by arbitral institutions in the UAE as well as by the LCIA and ICC to assist those parties that are either involved in, or considering initiating, arbitration proceedings.

We are already beginning to see many new claims being brought as a result of COVID-19, particularly in the aviation, banking, construction, hospitality and oil and gas sectors. We are providing regular advice on force majeure, change of law, payment, delay and termination provisions in contracts and representing claimants and defendants in arbitration proceedings brought as a result of the impact of this pandemic.

Logistically, this means being flexible in the conduct of such proceedings, continuing to embrace technology and becoming even more efficient and available for our clients. Arbitral institutions are no exception and are working hard to ensure uninterrupted service to parties using their centres.

At the outset, it is important to note that: (i) all of the arbitral institutions listed below remain fully operational; and (ii) while the initiatives taken by the various institutions are unchartered territory, given that arbitration is largely a party-driven process, we anticipate that these measures may not cause as much disruption than may otherwise be the case in more conventional litigation proceedings.

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The content above is based on information made available by these institutions and is accurate as of 13 April 2020. However, as the current landscape continues to develop, we anticipate that these institutions will implement further measures so as to ensure that proceedings run smoothly while at the same time protecting the health and safety of any parties, tribunal members and employees.

Consequently, the measures implemented by these institutions are subject to change. Accordingly, please seek up-to-date advice as appropriate. In addition, we encourage parties to keep an open line of communication with their opponents and the tribunal should they have any particular concerns.


Given its inherently flexible, cost effective and party-driven nature, arbitration is an ideal framework to assist parties in resolving disputes in such uncertain times. It will no doubt become increasingly popular in that contactless arbitrations will lead to greater procedural efficiency, while paperless “virtual” hearings will result in large cost savings and have a positive impact on the environment.

Get in touch

The Stephenson Harwood Middle East team has extensive international arbitration experience and has already conducted several remote conferences and arbitration hearings. The team is therefore on hand to assist you in navigating these issues as well as addressing any questions that you may have in connection with this briefing. Please therefore do not hesitate to contact any of the team members listed below or your usual contact at the firm should you require assistance.