October 24, 1997, Geneva, Switzerland
The Recent Revision of CIETAC Arbitration Rules
Professor Tang Houzhi
Vice-Chairman, China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC)
The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) promulgated its first set of arbitration rules in 1956. Since then, the rules have been revised three times. The first revision was done in 1989, the second revision in 1994 and the third revision (the recent revision) in 1995.
The general approaches in and the reasons for the revisions are to keep modernizing and internationalizing the CIETAC rules, ensuring parties autonomy and serving the arbitration users better.
On August 31, 1994, China promulgated a new Arbitration Law which came into effect on September 1, 1995.
In order to align them with the terms of the new Arbitration Law, the CIETAC arbitration rules were revised in 1995. The revised CIETAC arbitration rules were effective as from October 1, 1995.
There are not many changes in the rules. The important changes are as follows:
a) The original rules stipulate that CIETAC has the power to decide on the existence and validity of an arbitration agreement (arbitration clause) and on the jurisdictions over an arbitration case. Now the revised rules provide that CIETAC has the power to decide on the existence and validity of an arbitration agreement (arbitration clause) and the jurisdiction over an arbitration case; but, if one party challenges the validity of the arbitration agreement (arbitration clause) and requests CIETAC to make a decision thereupon and the other party applies to the Peoples court for a ruling, the latters ruling shall prevail.
b) The original rules stipulate that the presiding arbitrator in an arbitration tribunal shall be appointed by the chairman of CIETAC. Now the revised rules provide that the presiding arbitrator shall be appointed by the parties jointly; if the parties fail to appoint the presiding arbitrator, the chairman of CIETAC shall make such appointment.
c) The arbitrators shall submit their arbitral award to CIETAC before they sign their names on it. CIETAC may remind the arbitrators of any issues relating to the form of the arbitral award on condition that the arbitrators independence is not affected.
CIETAC is considering further amendment of its rules, with a view to keeping pace with the rapid development of international commercial arbitration towards "globalization" and "harmonization."