The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport and dates back to 1851 when the yacht America sailed across the Atlantic to take on the best of the British fleet. The trophy won that day was donated through a Deed of Gift to the New York Yacht Club, to be held as a challenge trophy for friendly competition between nations. Since then the trophy has only been raced for 35 times in the 167 years. The 36th America’s Cup will see Emirates Team New Zealand attempt to defend the ‘Auld Mug’ against a fleet of exceptionally strong and well resourced challengers in a new AC75 class in Auckland in 2021.
The 36th America's Cup Arbitration Panel (the Panel) has been kept busy in the past months deciding upon disputes regarding various subject-matters such as the definition of “nationality”, confidentiality in mediation proceedings, cancellation of selection series races as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, etc. The Panel has so far issued decisions in a total of 7 cases (6 arbitration cases and 1 mediation).
The Panel has been administering the America’s Cup disputes using a customized version of WIPO's online case communication tool (named America’s Cup Arbitration Panel “Electronic Case Facility”, ECAF), which has been made available free-of-charge by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center.
ECAF’s primary function is to assist the Panel as well as the parties (mainly the teams participating in the America’s Cup) in the conduct of cases. From a practical standpoint, both the teams’ applications and submissions and the Panel’s directions and decisions are uploaded on ECAF. By doing so, the documents filed on the web-based application are automatically and immediately dispatched to all concerned parties, and these are informed thereof by a specific mail.
The Panel is very satisfied with ECAF, which offers (i) a centralized database which includes all relevant documents filed and decisions issued in each case brought before the Panel as well as (ii) an efficient and reliable platform for managing arbitration cases. With the need to work in a very short time frame, the fact that the proceedings are multiparty arbitrations, and that parties thereto are in very different time zones (from New Zealand to Europe), ECAF has been instrumental in the effective management of all America’s Cup Arbitration Panel cases to date.
On behalf of the Panel, we would like to warmly thank WIPO for having given the Panel and the Parties/teams the possibility to use ECAF.
David Tillett AM, Chairman, Australia
Graham McKenzie, Member, New Zealand
Henry Peter, Member, Switzerland/France
Claire Mordelet, Administrative Secretary, France
March 31, 2020