- On March 10, 2023
On 24 February 2023 the Young Arbitration and ADR Forum at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC YAAF) and Dimitrov, Petrov & Co. brought together distinguished arbitration practitioners from around the world in Sofia for an insightful event on the fundamentals of arbitration. The aim of the event was to promote arbitration and to present its advantages over traditional court litigation in Bulgaria.
The event started with an introduction by Iuliana Iancu (Hanotiau & van den Berg) and a keynote speech by Oleg Temnikov (Wolf Theiss). Evgenia Peiffer (CMS) moderated the discussion among the panelists Elina Zlatanska (DRC, ICC International Court of Arbitration), Piotr Bytnerowicz (White & Case LLP), Silja Schaffstein (Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler) and Pencho Stanchev (Dimitrov, Petrov & Co.).
Oleg Temnikov tackled the main problems that hinder arbitration from gaining popularity in Bulgaria: lack of commentaries on Bulgarian law in foreign languages, the fact that arbitration is not taught in Bulgarian universities, distrust in arbitrators, etc. He stressed on the importance of such events that introduce young practitioners to the benefits of arbitration and support the development of the arbitration community.
The speakers continued the discussion with interesting statistics regarding the origin of the parties in arbitration proceedings administered by the ICC, the choice of arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism in different economic sectors, the average duration of ICC cases, and the choice of arbitrators.
Bulgaria ranks 8th in the CEE region as Bulgarian entities have participated in 25 cases only for the last 5 years. For reference Turkey tops the statistic with 252 cases, followed by Romania – 125 cases, and Poland with 110 cases.
Arbitration is most popular in the Construction & Engineering (26.2 %) and Energy (18 %) sectors which amount to almost half of the 2021 ICC arbitrations (44.2 %). Transportation and Health & Pharmaceuticals follow with significantly lower percentage – 6.5 % and 6.1 % respectively.
Pencho Stanchev focused on important aspects of arbitration regarding disputes arising from contracts for the sale of electricity and gave valuable practical advice and insights.
The panelists presented the most useful features of arbitration for the parties:
- possibility to choose not only lawyers, but also experts in the related sector
- choice of the language of the arbitration
- determination of the procedural calendar
- submission of witness statements
- submission of party-appointed expert reports
- possibility to request production of documents
- bifurcating proceedings or rendering more than one award
- identifying issues which can be resolved by agreement or solely based on documents
- controlling documentary evidence
- limiting length and scope of written submissions and oral witness evidence
- using telephone or video conferencing
- organising pre-hearing conferences and indicating the issues to focus on
All of these characteristics of arbitration show its flexibility and facilitate for more cost- and time- efficient proceedings.
The speakers talked about the scrutiny of awards by the ICC International Court of Arbitration, which aims to maximize legal effectiveness, to improve the quality and accuracy, and to prevent setting aside of the awards.
The panel discussed the enforcement of arbitral awards, which is another advantage of arbitration over litigation as the enforcement of awards is significantly easier than enforcement of court decisions due to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards with its 178 contracting states.
Finally, Metodi Baykushev (Dimitrov, Petrov & Co.) delivered a closing speech, during which he emphasized again on all the positive aspects of arbitration and the benefits it brings to clients. He stressed on the importance of trust between practitioners and that only thanks to trust arbitration will be promoted and become the preferred method for resolving disputes.
The event gained a lot of interest amongst dispute resolution practitioners, university lecturers and students. It was a great possibility for networking and exchanging experience between young arbitration enthusiasts. Keep an eye open for the next one to come!