The African Union endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision in 2000 and it became fully binding in 2002. Its rationale was the need to foster socio-economic development in Africa – policymakers recognised that aviation and a competitive aviation market could be decisive for unlocking Africa's economic potential. However, the agreement has not been fully implemented by its signatories.
Irrespective of how the construction of a vessel is financed, the shipyard and its financiers will require that the buyer pays a percentage of the contract price before delivery. This pre-payment may be lost to the buyer if proper security is not put in place. The provision of refund guarantees is the most common way in which this is achieved, but progressive title transfer may in some cases be an alternative method for securing the buyer's position.
The commercial practice of delivering cargo to a recipient against a charterers' letter of indemnity without the production of bills of lading has long been commonplace in the shipping industry. The split of the delivery process into two stages can cause issues for owners that rely on the standard letter of indemnity wording, which refers only to the delivery of cargo and not its discharge. Given this risk, it is sensible for shipowners to ensure that discharge is explicitly covered in any letters of indemnity issued in their favour.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently released Barecon 2017, which represents an important update of one of the most commonly used maritime contracts. While several new features have been included, the basic structure of the form remains the same. However, several of the simplifications, clarifications and other updates should make the form easier to use in conjunction with rider clauses crafted for a specific transaction.
Broadly speaking, the cost of a dispute includes parties' expenses in relation to attorney fees, procedural costs (court or arbitration fees) and additional expenses (eg, transport and food costs). In terms of these costs, on a superficial analysis, arbitration appears costlier than litigation, as the parties must pay arbitrators' fees, while judges are paid by the government of the countries where the dispute occurs. However, on a more careful analysis, it is evident that the inverse conclusion is true.
Various innovative procedural features (eg, emergency arbitrators, expedited arbitration and summary procedures) have been introduced in recently adopted institutional arbitration rules in order to increase the efficiency of arbitral proceedings. It is not yet clear how extensively these provisions will be used, nor how resulting decisions and orders will be recognised and enforced. However, the idea of granting tribunals powers to dispose of certain issues by way of summary procedure should be welcomed.
One of arbitration's cornerstone principles is that parties can agree on how to resolve their disputes. However, parties commonly agree on asymmetric, rather than symmetric, rights. The classic case is where only one party has the right to refer disputes to arbitration, but the other must litigate. Parties wishing to include asymmetric arbitration clauses are advised to consider carefully the courts' approaches to such clauses in all relevant jurisdictions.
Smart contracts are a hot topic in almost every industry sector. There is a misconception that, because they perform automatically and their performance cannot be stopped, they remove the potential for disputes. At least for the moment, this is wishful thinking. Although smart contracts provide huge potential benefits in terms of reducing transaction costs and increasing security, disputes can and will arise.
As the number of electronic devices, applications and other technologies increases, there has been a corresponding growth in the volume of potentially disclosable data in a dispute. While parties' disclosure obligations are clearly defined in the context of litigation, international arbitration offers a more flexible approach to disclosure which will often be influenced by the legal jurisprudence of the tribunal.
In time, Big Data will lead to the automation of most human tasks. The change potential for all organisations (and for society at large) is enormous, and it is already happening in an arbitration context. Some will consider that human discretion will always be a necessary part of dispute resolution. However, if arbitration exists to serve the interests of businesspeople – and if technology can offer quicker, cheaper, data-driven solutions that reduce the margin for error – human arbitrators could become irrelevant.
There are known difficulties with litigating IP and technology disputes, particularly where the disputes are global and involve rights protected in different jurisdictions. A recent international survey of IT and telecoms suppliers found that although respondents identified arbitration as their preferred mechanism of dispute resolution, in practice the most common mechanism over the past five years was litigation.
According to traditional antitrust theory, individuals (and firms) maximise utility according to stable preferences and rational expectations, while being well informed. This means that antitrust follows microeconomic bases that lead to the assumption that economic players are rational actors with willpower and self-interest. However, the emergence of behavioural economics shows that people do not necessarily behave in the ways that traditional economic principles would predict.
The Internet of Things, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are IT mega-trends that are not only evolving rapidly, but also infiltrating practically every industry. While these technologies naturally raise data privacy concerns, they also pose challenges in relation to intellectual property and the ways in which IP-based relationships are established.
Arbitration is well placed to lead the way in adopting new technological and procedural innovations – indeed, arbitral institutions, tribunals and practitioners have a responsibility to do so, particularly where such innovations can reduce cost and improve efficiency. Online dispute resolution presents an opportunity for international arbitration to fulfil its early potential as a cost-effective and efficient means of dispute resolution.
International Shareholder Services recently released the results of its 2017-2018 global policy survey. The results reveal mixed views on multi-class capital structures, share buybacks and virtual annual meetings, but strong opinions on board gender diversity. However, although almost 70% of investors viewed as problematic the absence of any women on a board, making board diversity a reality seems to be a tougher proposition.
In a recent decision before the World Intellectual Property Organisation, a panel denied the transfer of a three-letter domain name, even though it identically reproduced a complainant's trademark, because the domain name had been registered years before the complainant acquired trademark rights and the complainant failed to demonstrate that the respondent was aware of those rights.
Modern information technology and the daily use of the Internet have strongly influenced the world of work in the 21st century. Intelligent algorithms simplify everyday tasks, and it is impossible to imagine how most steps of a procedure could be managed without them. Further, the use of artificial intelligence and robotics is accelerating. Thus, the question arises as to what the future world of work will look like and how long it will take for this to happen.
Arbitral institutions are constantly seeking to update their rules to keep in line with existing trends and to distinguish themselves among their peers. In early 2017 new or amended rules came into force for three of the most prominent global arbitral institutions. Important changes include the introduction of expedited procedures in International Chamber of Commerce and Stockholm Chamber of Commerce arbitrations and new Singapore International Arbitration Centre rules for investment arbitrations.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently launched a revised version of its standard time charter party for offshore support vessels – the Supplytime. Considering the form's broad application in practice, the 2017 edition's amendments and new features are likely to have a significant impact on issues facing owners and charterers.
Recent trends indicate a growing interest in investor-state mediation. Previously, the intermittent dialogue in investor-state mediation was speculative and often sceptical. The perception has been that compulsory mechanisms would be necessary for any dispute resolution process involving states to be effective. However, governments, investors and institutions now seem to be considering meditation as a viable tool for resolving investor-state disputes.