In 2018, a record 271 arbitrations were referred to the LCIA under the LCIA rules – an increase of over 16% on the 233 arbitrations referred under the LCIA rules in 2017.
The LCIA’s caseload continued to be dominated by the Banking and Finance and Energy and Resources sectors. Banking and Finance comprised almost a third of the LCIA’s cases, whilst 19% of the caseload was taken up by Energy and Resources disputes. It is worthwhile to note however that the number of Energy and Resources cases dropped by 5% compared to 2017, correlating with a steady recovery in global oil prices in 2018, whilst disputes relating to the Transport and Commodities sector grew to 14% up from 11% in 2017.
Reflecting the complexity of disputes entrusted to the LCIA, the number of applications for the joinder of a third party grew by more than 40% compared to the previous year and 19 applications were made for consolidation.
There were 23 applications for expedited appointment of a tribunal in 2018, a 53% increase on 2017. Of those 23 applications, 8 were granted, 9 were rejected, and 6 were superseded, withdrawn or pending as at the end of 2018. Emergency arbitrator provisions also appear to continue to be underused: the LCIA received just 3 applications for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator, 2 of which were granted by the LCIA Court (and the third was withdrawn).
The geographical spread of parties to LCIA arbitrations remained diverse with 79% from outside the UK. The number of UK parties however remains dominant (21%). Numbers from North America (4%) and the Caribbean (7%) have dropped slightly, by 7% and 3% respectively. Conversely, 2018 saw a growth in case numbers from Cyprus, India, Ireland and Mexico.
The shift towards greater diversity in arbitrator nationalities in earlier years continued in 2018. Reflecting the global spread of the case load, 34 nationalities were represented, among them the United States, Canada, Asia and continental Europe. When selections were made by the LCIA Court, it appointed non-British arbitrators 57% of the time. This is in contrast with selections made by parties and co-arbitrators, who nominated non-British arbitrators 20% and 27% of the time respectively. However, the preponderance of British arbitrators reflects the fact that the majority of cases were governed by English law.
In terms of gender diversity, women were still underrepresented, being appointed as arbitrators in just 23% of all cases. The LCIA is however taking steps to redress the balance: where the LCIA Court made arbitrator selections, female arbitrators were selected 43% of the time (an increase of 9% compared to 2017). There is however clearly more to do by parties and their counsel when making arbitrator nominations.
Relief sought and sums in play
Monetary relief remained the most popular relief sought, however on its own it was sought in 50% of the cases, which represents a 14% drop compared to 2017. Congruently, the number of cases where claimants sought both monetary relief and declaratory relief and/or specific performance increased by 9%, comprising 37% of all cases.
In comparison to the 2017 numbers, there was a significant rise (4%) in the number of cases where the sum of money involved was USD 50-100 million. This partly compensates for the 5% decrease in cases exceeding USD 100 million.
Other figures – increasingly international flavour of LCIA disputes?
There has been a rise in disputes referred to the LCIA with no obvious nexus to England & Wales, whether by governing law or seat – 76% of the LCIA’s arbitration caseload was governed by English law, a 9% drop compared to 2017, with Cypriot and Mexican law applicable in a rising number of cases. Arbitrations were seated outside of England and Wales in 12% of the cases, marking a 6% increase.
Annamaria Eros, Trainee Solicitor (Secondee), Baker McKenzie London