In many instances, speedy dispute resolution will be of utmost importance for parties. If a dispute is not resolved promptly it may threaten a party’s solvency or ability to conduct ‘business as usual’.

In response to this need, a number of overseas arbitral institutions have introduced the concept of an ‘emergency arbitrator’. Under those procedures, at the request of a party an emergency arbitrator is appointed to determine applications for urgent interim relief before the arbitral tribunal is constituted. Once the application is dealt with, the ‘emergency arbitrator becomes functus.

NZDRC and  NZIAC have responded to the demand for urgency in a different, and we would say, a more practical and certain way. The 2018 Rules provide for the urgent appointment of an arbitrator to deal with applications for Urgent Interim Relief before the arbitral tribunal has been constituted in the ordinary course under the Rules. Under this procedure – at the request of a party – NZDRC or NZIAC will appoint an arbitrator from a specialist panel to determine the application. The arbitrator must endeavour to make any interim order or award within five days of appointment. However, unlike the rules of other institutions, the same arbitrator (unless otherwise agreed by the parties) will continue to act as either sole or Presiding Arbitrator for the remainder of the arbitration.

This process strikes a balance between meeting demands of urgency and ensuring that time and efficiency is not needlessly wasted through a change of arbitrator. As with all other forms of interim relief, any award or order made in respect of an application for Urgent Interim Relief may be modified, suspended, or cancelled by the Arbitral Tribunal at a later time. However, after an application for Urgent Interim Relief has been determined, the arbitrator who has been appointed for that purpose may be removed by agreement of the parties thus preserving the parties’ inherent right to choose their arbitrator.

NZDRC and NZIAC have established a specialist panel for the purposes of making expedited appointments in cases involving applications for Urgent Interim Relief. The panel is comprised largely of former members of the judiciary in order to instil confidence in the process.

For domestic arbitrations, and for parties who choose to arbitrate on an ad hoc basis under the Arbitration Act 1996, NZDRC’s appointment process is designed to be efficient allowing for urgent appointments to be made within 24 hours, again providing parties and their counsel with a time efficient option to ensure that those parties are able to access a prompt and professional arbitration service at all times.

Sign of the times: enforcing an arbitration agreement exchanged by electronic counterparts

By Belinda Green In the electronic era, documents often do not exist in physical form. Does this affect their enforceability? Recent decisions from Australia and New Zealand show that our mindset about what an original or duly certified copy is might need to change...

Different dispute resolution clauses in related contracts. Which one prevails?

By Jo O’Dea If you have a number of related contracts between different parties and they have different dispute resolution clauses, which one do you use? SUMMARY In ZPMC- Red Box Energy Services Ltd vs Philip Jeffry Adkins and Others [2021] HKCFI 3501, there were 3...

Court thwarts bad faith attempt to lift veil of confidentiality of international arbitration award

By Maria Cole The confidentiality of arbitral proceedings is important. It is protected by statute and model law. In EBJ21 v EBO21,[1] the Federal Court of Australia refused to have its processes used to erode or undermine the parties’ agreement to, and the law’s...

New Zealand still rated as global leader for public sector transparency, honesty and integrity

Transparency International has just released the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). New Zealand has retained its joint number one ranking along with Denmark, as having one of the least corrupt public sectors in the world. This year Finland joins the top-slot as...

Wilful Breaches of Contract – Do Exclusion Clauses and Liability Caps Still Work?

Can deliberate or wilful contract breaches still benefit from clauses that limit or exclude liability? The English High Court recently considered this issue in Mott Macdonald Ltd v Trant Engineering Ltd,[1] which confirmed that clauses limiting or excluding liability...

Clause and effect: the importance of well-drafted model clauses

An overview of why well-drafted model clauses matter Introduction Contracts, like disputes, come in all shapes and sizes. Most parties to a contract are keen to get the deal finalised and signed on the dotted line as quickly as possible. There isn't always an appetite...

English High Court confirms that parties are not permitted to raise a counterclaim at enforcement stage of a New York Convention award

In Selevision Saudi Co v BeIN Media Group LLC [2021] EWHC 2802 (Comm), the High Court in England and Wales held that it had no jurisdiction to permit a counterclaim at the enforcement stage of a New York Convention award pursuant to the English Arbitration Act given...

No access clause implied in commercial leases

On 28 October 2021, the Government amended the Property Law Act to imply a ‘no access in an emergency clause’ into commercial leases which do not already provide for adjusted rent payment terms during an epidemic emergency. The implied clause applies from 18 August...

Leaky Home Case: Failure to obtain a building report results in reduction of damages for contributory negligence

By Melt Strydom. Apportionment for contributory negligence allows a court to share the responsibility between parties in circumstances where the test for causation and remoteness of damage justifies it. It doesn’t mean a respondent will not be held liable for...

Changes on the way for commercial lease Covid-19 rent disputes

The government has introduced a law change which will imply into commercial leases that don’t have an existing no access in emergency clause, a provision requiring a fair proportion of rent and outgoings to be paid when a tenant has been unable to conduct their...