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君合简讯:《君合代理客户赢得涉UNCITRAL规则之仲裁协议效力确认之诉案件》

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  君合律师事务所上海分所近日在上海市第二中级人民法院(下称“上海二中院”)为客户赢得一起当事人约定由“中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会”在中国境内根据《联合国国际贸易法委员会仲裁规则》(“UNCITRAL规则”)进行仲裁的仲裁协议效力确认之诉案件(下称“本案”),该案中,法院确认当事人约定由中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会(下称“贸仲上海分会”)作为仲裁机构、按照UNCITRAL规则进行仲裁的仲裁条款合法有效,并确认该案当事人之间的争议应由上海国际经济贸易仲裁委员会(下称“上海贸仲”)仲裁解决。

    案件背景

  本案系争仲裁条款约定:“双方同意通过有约束力的仲裁解决所有因本协议引起或与本协议有关的争议。仲裁由三名仲裁员根据联合国国际贸易法委员会仲裁规则进行。仲裁地点为中华人民共和国,上海,仲裁语言为英语。中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会应主持仲裁并在联合国国际贸易法委员会仲裁规则要求仲裁员指定机构行动时充当仲裁员指定机构。……。”

  本案对方当事人主张系争仲裁条款无效的理由有两点:(1)根据中国法律规定,未选定明确仲裁机构的仲裁条款为临时仲裁条款,系无效仲裁条款。而系争仲裁条款中“仲裁由三名仲裁员进行”的条款属于典型的临时仲裁条款,条款中并非约定由贸仲上海分会进行仲裁,只是约定由其作为管理机构、指定机构,不能等同于机构仲裁,上述仲裁条款并未约定明确的仲裁机构,因而为无效仲裁条款;(2)中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会已在2012年12月31日公告终止对贸仲上海分会从事仲裁活动的授权,其已失去作为为临时仲裁提供服务的管理机构、指定机构的合法主体资格和资质。

  我们代表客户向法院提交了相关证据材料及答辩意见,并参加了上海二中院就本案举行的听证,发表主要答辩意见如下:(1)UNCITRAL仲裁规则并不排斥仲裁机构同时以仲裁机构的身份和“指定机构”的身份管理仲裁案件,系争仲裁条款首先选定贸仲上海分会作为仲裁机构负责主持仲裁、行使程序管理等职责,同时,贸仲上海分会也在需要时充当指定机构。因而,系争仲裁条款并非如对方当事人所述是未选定明确仲裁机构的临时仲裁条款;(2)贸仲上海分会具有独立履行仲裁职能的合法资质,依法有权受理涉案仲裁。

    法院裁定

  2015年3月12日,上海二中院作出裁定,驳回对方当事人关于确认仲裁协议无效的申请,确认系争仲裁条款系合法有效的仲裁协议,且本案应由上海国际经济贸易仲裁委员会依法行使仲裁管辖权。上海二中院认为:(1)系争仲裁条款中“中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会应主持仲裁并在联合国国际贸易法委员会仲裁规则要求仲裁员指定机构行动时充当仲裁员指定机构”的部分文字表述虽有一定的临时仲裁特性,但其中“主持仲裁”(英文表述为administer the arbitration)和“指定机构”(英文表述为“appointing authority”)两项表述,表明当事人通过系争仲裁协议赋予了中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会有别于临时仲裁中相关机构一般只提供行政管理服务的更多职能,而《中华人民共和国仲裁法》及中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会的仲裁规则本身也不排斥当事人选择仲裁过程中所适用的仲裁规则,因此,按照有利于实现当事人仲裁意愿的目的解释的方法分析,系争仲裁条款已经选定了仲裁委员会,且不属于临时仲裁性质;(2)中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会上海分会系依法设立的仲裁机构,现已更名为上海贸仲,其有权依据当事人签订的仲裁协议受理仲裁案件并作出裁决。

    案件意义

  这是上海地区的法院首次就当事人约定由中国仲裁机构在中国适用UNCITRAL规则审理仲裁的案件之仲裁条款的效力作出确认。在此之前,宁波市中级人民法院也曾就当事人约定中国仲裁机构适用UNCITRAL规则进行仲裁的仲裁条款之有效性作出确认。上海二中院就本案作出的裁定进一步肯定了中国仲裁机构根据当事人的约定适用UNCITRAL规则审理仲裁案件的合法性。此外,上海二中院的这一裁定与其在2015年1月份陆续出具的几份民事裁定保持一致,进一步确认上海贸仲作为独立仲裁机构对约定“贸仲上海分会”案件行使管辖权的合法性。

  此外,根据本案以及此前有关UNCITRAL规则的仲裁协议效力争议的案件可以看出,当事人约定由中国仲裁机构适用UNCITRAL规则进行仲裁的仲裁条款专业性很强,如表述不当,很可能导致仲裁条款被认定为是临时仲裁条款而被确认无效。因此,我们建议,如当事人拟约定适用UNCITRAL规则作为仲裁规则,在最终确定仲裁条款的内容之前,先寻求专业律师的专业建议,以避免仲裁条款无效的法律风险。

     作者:陈鲁明律师/崔文辉律师/刘佳迪律师

 

Jun He won a case in which the court confirms the validity of an arbitration agreement using the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules

 

Acting on behalf of its client, JUN HE Law Offices Shanghai Office recently won a case before the Shanghai Second Intermediate Court (the “Court”). The issue in the case concerns the validity of an arbitration agreement which provides that the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (the “UNCITRAL Rules”) shall be used and be administered by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Shanghai Sub-commission (“CIETAC-SH”) in the arbitration proceedings in China. The Court has decided that the arbitration agreement is valid and should be binding upon the parties, and the dispute should be handled by Shanghai International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (“SHIAC”).

Background

The arbitration agreement provides that “The parties agree to resolve all differences arising out of or relating to this AGREEMENT through binding arbitration before three arbitrators pursuant to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The place of arbitration shall be Shanghai, People’s Republic of China and the language of the arbitration shall be English. The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Shanghai Commission shall administer the arbitration, and also act as the appointing authority when the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules call for an appointing authority to act……

The respondent raised an objection on two grounds: (1) An arbitration agreement that does not specify an arbitration institution should be deemed as contemplating an ad hoc arbitration; ad hoc arbitration is not permitted under PRC law. In the case, the provision “resolve all the differences…before three arbitrators…” is a typical ad hoc arbitration clause; CIETAC-SH is only expected to be an “appointing authority” under the UNCITRAL Rules, not as an arbitration institution. Therefore, the arbitration agreement failed to specify an arbitration institution and is not valid under PRC law; (2) The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission has effectively terminated its authorization for CIETAC-SH to accept and administer arbitration cases, and CIETAC-SH is no longer a legitimate institution to act as an appointing authority and provide services in ad hoc arbitration proceedings under the UNCITRAL Rules.

We argued before the Court after the submission of briefs and supporting evidence that: (1) The UNCITRAL Rules do not exclude an arbitration institution from acting both as an arbitration institution and as an “appointing authority” to administer cases in arbitration proceedings. The arbitration agreement in question first selects CIETAC-SH as an arbitration institution to administer and manage the arbitration proceedings; it also selects CIETAC-SH as an “appointing authority” under the UNCITRAL Rules. Therefore, the arbitration agreement does not provide ad hoc arbitration which is not permitted under PRC law. (2) CIETAC-SH is a legitimate arbitration institution under PRC law; it has jurisdiction to independently accept and administer arbitration cases.

The Court's Decision

It is the first case in which the court in the Shanghai area confirms the validity of an arbitration agreement providing for the application of the UNCITRAL Rules to be administered by a Chinese arbitration institution. Previously, the Ningbo Intermediate Court issued a decision confirming the validity of a similar arbitration agreement which appointed a Chinese arbitration institution to administer a case under the UNCITRAL Rules. The Court’s decision further affirms the validity of arbitration agreements providing for application of the UNCITRAL Rules to be administered by Chinese arbitration institutions in China. Moreover, keeping pace with various other rulings issued in January 2015 by the Court, this decision further reinforces the Court’s affirmation on the legality of SHIAC as an independent arbitration institution in accepting and administering arbitration cases.

However, from this and other cases relating to the application of the UNCITRAL Rules, it should be pointed out that there are technical drafting issues when drafting an arbitration agreement using the UNCITRAL Rules; a minor mistake may lead a court to believe that it provides for ad hoc arbitration and is therefore invalid. We suggest that companies seek advice from their counsel when preparing an arbitration agreement using the UNCITRAL Rules.

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