On 17 May 2021, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) released its 2020 Annual Casework Report, which provides an insight into the LCIA’s caseload in 2020, and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its administration of cases. This follows hot on the heels of preliminary statistics released by the International Court of Arbitration (ICC), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), and the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).
Caseload Reached an All-Time High
The LCIA had an extraordinary year in 2020, receiving 444 referrals, including 407 arbitrations pursuant to the LCIA Rules, together marking an all-time high and an 18% increase on 2019 alone. The long-term growth reveals a doubling of arbitrations pursuant to the LCIA Rules over the last decade, and the minimal number of related cases reduces any potential inflation of the number of referrals, indicating a genuinely healthy caseload.
The LCIA is not the only arbitration institution to report a record-breaking growth in cases in 2020:
- The ICC beat their previous record in 2016 by reporting 946 new arbitration cases in 2020 — up from 869 cases in 2019 — with 929 adopting the ICC Rules of Arbitration and the remaining 17 being filed under the ICC Appointing Authority Rules.
- The HKIAC received 318 cases, its highest number of new arbitration filings in more than a decade. The total amount in arbitration disputes handled by HKIAC was also at an unparalleled high for them, totaling HK$68.8 billion (approximately US$8.8 billion).
- The SIAC is yet to release their full 2020 report, but it has already broadcast surpassing 1000 cases, with an impressive 1005 new cases before the end of October 2020.
- The CIETAC’s 2020 work report shows that it accepted 3,615 new cases in 2020, 739 of which were ‘foreign-related cases.’ This is a marked increase on CIETAC’s 2019 statistics (3,333 new cases, 617 of which were ‘foreign-related’).
So far as the ICC and the LCIA are concerned, these positive announcements follow the publication of revised rules of arbitration (the ICC Rules of Arbitration 2021 and the LCIA Arbitration Rules 2020), both of which seek to engender greater efficiency in international arbitration.
Amidst the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, these statistics show that international commercial arbitration continues to grow as a dispute resolution mechanism.
About Faegre Drinker
Faegre Drinker’s wealth of experience in international arbitration before the LCIA in its London and American offices continues to enable the firm to utilize the procedural improvements in the updated LCIA rules to their full effect.