Why Arbitration at CRCICA
CRCICA is an independent non-profit international organisation. While located in Egypt, CRCICA is not affiliated or related to the Egyptian Government in any way.
The Centre was established in 1979 in Cairo under the auspices of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), in pursuance of AALCO’s decision taken at its 1978 Doha Session to establish regional centres for international commercial arbitration in Asia and Africa. Indeed, CRCICA is the oldest arbitration centre in Africa and the Middle East and was dubbed the “granddaddy” of arbitration in the region by the Global Arbitration Review in 2016.
The Headquarters Agreement concluded between AALCO and the Egyptian Government in 1987 recognises CRCICA’s status as an international organisation. The Centre, its directors and its members enjoy all the necessary privileges and immunities ensuring its independent functioning.
The institutional composition of CRCICA reflects its nature as an international and regional organisation, and its scope encompassing Asia and Africa as well as the rest of the world.
- The Board of Trustees (BoT), oversees the Centre’s general policy and its future plans as well as reviews its caseload, financial statements and performance. It is chaired by Dr Nabil Elaraby, supported by two vice-chairmen from Egypt and Saudi Arabia and 21 other eminent members from Bahrain, Cameroon, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Spain.
- The Advisory Committee (AC), includes African, Asian and European specialists and experts. At present, it is composed of 15 members including arbitration and international specialists from Chile, China, Egypt, France, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland. The AC is consulted on the requests not to proceed submitted under Article 6 of the CRCICA Arbitration Rules and to decide on the challenge and removal of arbitrators.
View an article in Arabic titled “Trends inferred from the Decisions of CRCICA’s Tripartite Committees in relation to Requests for challenge and removal of arbitrators“
CRCICA is an impartial and independent arbitral institution with over 40 years of experience in administering institutional and ad hoc international and domestic commercial arbitrations.
CRCICA is not financed by any entity and fully self-sustained.
Under the CRCICA Arbitration Rules, parties are free to choose a neutral arbitral seat when drafting their arbitration clause, meaning there is no requirement that the seat of the arbitration be in Cairo, Egypt.
Parties are free to agree on an appointing authority other than CRCICA.
One aspect of CRCICA’s neutrality is the way it safeguards party autonomy in the constitution of the arbitral tribunal. For example, when the Centre is requested to appoint a sole arbitrator or a presiding arbitrator, it will, whenever possible, privilege doing so through the “Identical List Procedure” (Article 8(3) of the CRCICA Arbitration Rules), thereby maximizing the parties’ control over the process of the constitution of the entire arbitral tribunal.
CRCICA’s Headquarters’ Agreement guarantees its neutrality by ensuring its immunity vis-a-vis the host state, to the extent that the Centre has been recommended by the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Report on Arbitration Centres to administer cases filed against public entities of the host state.
Regarding a request to set aside an arbitral award rendered in CRCICA Case No. 620 for the year 2009, the appellant raised the case against the winning party and CRCICA before the Cairo Court of Appeal in Challenge No. 32, Judicial year 128 issued on 6 June 2012. The Court of Appeal clearly stated that CRCICA is characterized by its international character by following an international organization, namely “AALCO” through an international convention signed between it and the Egyptian Government. Such nature ensures that CRCICA enjoys certain privileges and immunities while undertaking its mission of conducting the arbitral process. As such, CRCICA is not subject to any judicial entity within the territory of “Egypt” and therefore CRCICA cannot be brought within the jurisdiction of the court upon which a setting aside proceeding relating to an award is rendered according to its rules or under its auspices. Please click here to view the judgement in Arabic
From the outset, CRCICA adopted the United Nations Commission for Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules with some amendments to adapt them to institutional arbitration. At the same time, CRCICA administers ad hoc proceedings under UNCITRAL Rules or other ad hoc Rules including various national arbitration legislations. CRCICA has amended its Arbitration Rules in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2007 to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of their users, reflecting best practice in the field of international institutional arbitration.
The CRCICA Arbitration Rules of 2011 (CRCICA Arbitration Rules), in force since 1 March 2011, are based on the new UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, as revised in 2010, with minor modifications to fit CRCICA’s role as an arbitral institution and an appointing authority. These amendments modernised the CRCICA Arbitration Rules, promoting efficiency of the arbitral proceedings through many provisions, including, inter alia:
- Introducing a mechanism to form tribunals in multiparty arbitrations;
- Regulating joinder of third parties to the proceedings; and
- Adjusting the original tables of costs to ensure more transparency and flexibility in the determination of the administrative and arbitrators’ fees.
The CRCICA Arbitration Rules, available in Arabic, English and French reflect the best practices in the field of international institutional arbitration
CRCICA registered its first arbitration case in the year 1984, and has registered over 1600 arbitration cases to date relating to disputes arising of almost all types of commercial and economic activities, in addition to a number of other ADR proceedings, cementing its status as a major arbitration centre in the MENA region and in Africa.
Between the years 2012 and 2019, CRCICA registered a total of 593 cases. Out of those 593 cases, 75 cases were ad hoc cases. Therefore, ad hoc cases make up almost 13% of CRCICA’s caseload vs 87% of CRCICA’s institutional arbitration cases.
Based on CRCICA’s statistics, cases arising out of construction and contracts for works ranked at the top of the types of disputes for a number of years. CRCICA has also administrated cases in multibillion oil and gas industries, as well as telecommunications. The latter cases, despite being limited in number, involved all the GSM mobile and fixed lines operators in Egypt, and involved sums in dispute amounting to hundreds of millions, or even billions, of US dollars. In recent years, CRCICA has witnessed a more varied caseload, with industries ranging from hotel management to pharmaceuticals to public private partnerships, as well as corporate restructuring, media & entertainment, real-estate development, transport, sports and tourism & hospitality.
Parties to CRCICA arbitrations and arbitrators appointed in CRCICA administered cases come from more than 50 countries all over the globe. CRCICA has administered cases where all the parties are Egyptian and their transaction relates to Egypt, international cases including one or more non-Egyptian parties, as well as purely international cases where all the parties were non-Egyptian and the contract in dispute performed outside Egypt.
Since 2017, cases registered at CRCICA involved 129 non-Egyptian parties from the following countries: Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, and Yemen.
Between 2017 and 2021, more than 100 non-Egyptian arbitrators were appointed in CRCICA arbitration cases from Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Spain, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.
While parties are not required to choose their arbitrators from among its members, CRCICA’s Panel of Arbitrators includes more than 400 arbitrators spanning over 60 nationalities. The Panel of Arbitrators includes arbitrators from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Zambia.
In 2017, CRCICA signed the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge (ERA Pledge) following its launch in 2015, with an aim to support the equal representation of women in arbitration. While prioritizing the interest of its users depending on the circumstances of the relevant case, CRCICA encourages the appointment of arbitrators under the age of 40, as well as geographic diversity. The Centre’s implementation of these diversity policies when acting as appointing authority appears to have rubbed off on its users, which increasingly tend to appoint female arbitrators.
It is also worth mentioning that some investor-state dispute cases have also been brought to CRCICA under bilateral investment treaties (BITs) concluded with the involvement of Arab countries, which refer to the CRCICA Arbitration Rules or list CRCICA among possible arbitration institutions. In fact, CRCICA has been chosen as an arbitral institution in dozens of BITs, including some not involving any Egyptian parties. Throughout its history, CRCICA has administered 3 investor-State arbitrations.
CRCICA’s services, including its arbitration costs (i.e. the Centre’s administrative fees and the arbitrators’ fees), are cost effective, with a high quality to price ratio. The costs of arbitration in CRCICA, which include are reasonable and cost effective.
On 25 January 2018, later updated on 23 April 2021, the Global Arbitration Review (GAR) published its ‘Arbitration Costs Compared’ report, comparing the arbitration costs from different arbitral institutions around the world, including the registration fees, the administrative fees, and the arbitrators’ fees.
Parties can easily determine how much a claim is going to cost them by using the CRCICA Cost Calculator, ensuring the transparency of the fee structure and foreseeability of the costs.
One of the main advantages to users of administering an arbitration case via CRCICA is the selection of highly experienced counsels along with a highly educated new generation of case managers, who are able to administer cases in Arabic, English, and French languages. They are therefore able to provide efficient services under the supervision of the Director of CRCICA and/or its Deputy Director, as well as CRCICA’s Advisory Committee. The role of CRCICA within the scope of the arbitral proceedings includes the following:
- Appointing arbitrators;
- Determining the costs of the arbitration;
- Deciding on challenges to arbitrators; and
- Ensuring that the arbitral award is rendered on time.
Regarding the value of disputes administered by the Centre, while up to half the cases in a given year will have a sum in dispute not exceeding USD 1 million, the Centre administers multi-billion-dollar cases. For example, in 2015 the total sum in dispute in a gas supply case reached USD 6,435,713,084 representing as such a new record for the aggregate sums in dispute.
Further, CRCICA has witnessed an increase in the number of cases with higher sums in disputes. For example, CRCICA recorded a 153% relative increase in the number of disputes with a sum in dispute exceeding USD 50 million between 2017 and 2021.
CRCICA provides its hearing centre services for cases registered at CRCICA and elsewhere, enabling users to benefit from its state-of-the-art facilities. CRCICAʼs high-tech international hearing centre enables the best use of digital facilities for working remotely. CRCICA’s high-tech hearing facility is equipped with a premier video conferencing system (Polycom HDX) and interactive meeting room systems are installed to ensure high impact visual experiences and realistic meeting environments. Such video conferencing system can accommodate a remote or virtual hearing connected to the cloud and conducting it using online platforms, which can be connected up to the maximum number of persons allowed to connect remotely via such platform. By virtue of these technologies and the flexible rules of CRCICA, hearings and meetings of tribunals are conducted virtually, without undue delay of arbitration proceedings.
Arbitration hearings are conducted in camera (i.e. not accessible to the public) and awards are, under normal circumstances, not published. Therefore, disputes will not be revealed to the public and where possible business relationships can be maintained. This is maintained through Article 40 of the CRCICA Arbitration Rules.
The African Development Bank
CRCICA was recognised in June 2022 by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in an Assessment Report of Arbitration Centre in Egypt (CRCICA), Côte d’Ivoire, prepared by Domitille Baizeau, Augustin Barrier and Baptiste Rigaudeau (LALIVE SA) (“AfDB 2022 Report”). The purpose of AfDB’s 2022 Report is to provide an update of the First AfDB Report on Arbitration Centres in Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Mauritius referring to CRCICA in 2014, with regard to the requirement for an “internationally recognized arbitral forum with well – established and professionally – respected commercial arbitration procedures”.
The AfDB 2014 Report recognised “CRCICA as one of the best arbitration centres in the African continent and elsewhere”. The AfDB 2022 Report referred to the same quote of the AfDB 2014 Report and further provided that “Six years later, we stand by that assessment.”
The AfDB 2014 Report further stated that CRCICA fulfilled the AfDB’s requirement of neutrality and independence and it concluded that CRCICA “remains one of the best arbitration centres across the African continent and can readily be recommended for use by parties from both the African continent and elsewhere”. The AfDB 2014 Report also noted the “suitability of the CRCICA Rules for the conduct of important international arbitration proceedings”.
The AfDB 2022 Report mentioned that “The general view was that the quality of the services provided compared with large international centres like the ICC, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“SCC”) or the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”). The case volume has remained stable, and even increased, since our last report showing users’ confidence”. The AfDB 2022 Report also stated that “CRCICA fulfilled AfDB Criteria of Autonomy of parties to select arbitrators: “ The parties are not bound by a specific list. If the arbitrators are to be appointed by the Centre, then they must be chosen from the panel of arbitrators of CRCICA.”
The Global Arbitration Review
- The Global Arbitration Review (GAR) as a leading regional arbitration service provider of international arbitration news and community intelligence consistently recognizes CRCICA’s pioneering status in the Middle East and on the African continent.
- In its inaugural Guide to Regional Arbitration, released in 2013, GAR named CRCICA as a top arbitration centre in the Middle East and North Africa. Since then, GAR has continued to recognize CRCICA in its list of the best institutions across the Middle East and Africa.
- Since November 2016, CRCICA has been enrolled on the GAR’s White List of its Guide to Regional Arbitration in the Middle East and Africa. GAR stated that: “The CRCICA is the ‘granddaddy’ of arbitration in the region, to quote one source. It’s been operating for 35 years, during which time it has administered more than 1,000 cases, many with an international element. Other local organisations look to it for inspiration.” “It’s been operating for long enough to have encountered most situations at least once. It’s also well managed. Together these factors see it described as ‘the current class of the field’ in the Middle East.”
- CRCICA was recognised by GAR as the regional institution of the year in 2013 and 2019. The award won in 2019 was for “Arbitral Institution that Impressed“, this was because of CRCICA’s commitment to improving diversity not only in the appointment of arbitrators, but also when promoting its own staff, and for being “one of the most reasonable priced institutions around.”
- CRCICA was shortlisted, alongside other leading arbitral institutions, at the 10th Annual GAR Awards in 2020, for the ‘Special recognition award for response to the coronavirus pandemic’ following the release of a 12-institution strong “Joint Statement” committing to work together to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
- In the latest edition of GAR’s Guide to Regional Arbitration (2021), CRCICA remains the only arbitral institution located in Africa on the White List and is one of two institutions located in the Middle East on that list, the other being the DIFC-LCIA, established in 2008. CRCICA has maintained its position on the White List over the years thanks to its “experience” and “professionalism”. The GAR article also noted CRCICA’s caseload diversity, in terms of language of arbitration, origin of the disputes and industries involved, stressing that “few centres have its expertise in Arabic disputes”.
The African Arbitration Association
In 2020, the African Arbitration Association (AfAA) launched the “AfAA Awards 2020”, as a new opportunity to recognise and celebrate the important contribution of African jurisdictions, African Arbitration and ADR practitioners and institutions to the practice and development of international dispute resolution. Also, CRCICA was awarded the “African Institution of the Year” award, as well as the “Diversity Champion”. CRCICA was also shortlisted under the category of “Innovation in Arbitration”.
Bilateral Investment Treaties
Arbitration under CRCICA Arbitration Rules is provided for in many bilateral investment treaties (BITs) concluded between Egypt and European parties (including, for instance, the 2001 Egyptian–Austrian BIT) or concluded between countries from the Middle East and Africa (including, for instance, BITs between Egypt and the UAE, Mauritius, Oman, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon). It is also provided for in BITs where Egypt is not a party, such as the BIT between Libya and Morocco.
CRCICA arbitral awards are regularly published to guide users in applying its Arbitration Rules, while maintaining the confidentiality of its awards, in several reputable publications such as Kluwer Arbitration and by way of recent example in the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Yearbook Commercial Arbitration 2021- Volume XLVI. These CRCICA arbitral awards are considered amongst the best awards in the world issued by an arbitral institution in amounts surpassing billions of USD. Not to mention that such Awards include some of the highest calibres of arbitrators showing the prominent place that CRCICA has achieved, as an arbitral institution, in the global arbitration scene since it came to exist for over four decades ago. In addition, other CRCICA arbitral awards were published in Kluwer Arbitration, Collection of CRCICA Arbitral Awards, the International Journal of Arab Arbitration and others.
Click here for more information on the CRCICA Arbitral Awards
Enforcement of foreign court judgments can be difficult in the absence of an appropriate bilateral treaty. Under the Convention for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 1958) (“the New York Convention“) signed by more than 150 jurisdictions, each of the Convention parties undertake to recognise and enforce arbitral awards made in other signatory countries.
CRCICA arbitral awards are enforceable in over 163 countries worldwide, in application of the New York Convention. Below are examples of enforcement of CRCICA Arbitral Awards in France and Egypt.
Enforcement outside the host state
- A gas supply contract was concluded between an Egyptian public entity (Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation – EGPC) and another Egyptian company (National Gas Company – NATGAS). NATGAS filed a Request for arbitration before the CRCICA which took CRCICA Case No. 567 for the year 2008. In its award dated 12 September 2009, the arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of NATGAS. In an order issued on 19 May 2010, the President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (First Instance Court of Paris) allowed enforcement of the award. EGPC appealed this decision before the Paris Court of Appeal, which was later rejected and upheld the enforcement of the award on 24 November 2011.
- The enforcement of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) vs National Gas Company (NATGAS) award rendered under CRCICA Arbitration Rules by the French Court of Appeal on 21 May 2019 despite the award being first set aside in Egypt by the Egyptian Courts.
- The enforcement of Peninsula Publishing Company vs EGYPTAIR Holding Company award under CRCICA Arbitration Rules in CRCICA Case No. 440 for 2005 (CRCICA arbitral award was issued on 28 December 2006). The arbitral award was rendered in favor of Peninsula Publishing Company regarding the wrongful termination of the contract by EGYPTAIR Holding Company relating to the publication of the “HORUS” Magazine. The arbitral award was upheld and enforced by the French Court of Appeal on 8 October 2010.
Enforcement in the host state
- On 27 October 2020, the Egyptian Court of Cassation in Case No. 18309 for the Judicial Year 89, upheld a decision of the Cairo Court of Appeal issued on 7 July 2019 refusing to set aside an arbitral award issued under the CRCICA Arbitration Rules which was rendered on 20 February 2018. A contractor awarded two companies a project for the construction of a sewage treatment plant in the Cairo Governorate under a subcontract. One of the subcontractors initiated arbitration proceedings at the CRCICA following the contractor’s failure to perform its obligations under the Subcontract. The Court of Cassation judgment asserts the Egyptian courts’ progressive stance towards arbitration. In particular, the Court of Cassation broke new ground by (i) recognising and detailing the legal test for the principle of estoppel under Egyptian law, even in the absence of express legal provisions to that effect, (ii) affirming the parties’ general right under Egyptian law to appoint non-lawyers to represent them in arbitration proceedings, and (iii) hinting at the compatibility of virtual hearings with Egyptian law.
- Egyptian Court of Cassation judgment in case No. 11348, issued on 11 April 2019, Judicial Year 88 Another ruling in an award issued in CRCICA Case No. 1029 for the year 2015, where it was considered that by applying Article 3 of the Egyptian Law No. 27 for the year 1994 on Arbitration in Civil and Commercial Matters “… (2. If the parties to the arbitration agree to resort to an arbitration organization or an arbitral institution which is based in Egypt or abroad)”, such an arbitral award issued at CRCICA is commercial and characterized as an international award and thereby triggering the first paragraph of Article 9 of the same Law, where the Cairo Court of Appeal is the only competent court to rule on matters of setting aside arbitral awards.