On August 17, 2021, the Republic of Uzbekistan’s Law on International Commercial Arbitration (ICA Law) will enter into force.
This law was signed by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on February 16, 2021, with the purpose of strengthening arbitral resolution of international commercial disputes, defining the role and status of arbitration, and ensuring the implementation of arbitral decisions in line with agreements concluded between Uzbekistan and other states. (ICA Law arts. 1 & 4.)
The ICA Law is part of a larger effort to reform Uzbek legislation. The new law aims to increase confidence of foreign investors and simplify the resolution of cross-border commercial disputes.
This law complies with the requirements of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of 1985. The UNCITRAL secretariat has already recognized the Uzbek ICA Law as compliant with the text of the UNCITRAL Model Law.
Content of the ICA Law
The ICA Law sets out the rules, forms, and procedures for concluding arbitration clauses and arbitration agreements.
The law provides that all contractual and noncontractual commercial disputes may be referred for international commercial arbitration by agreement of the parties to the dispute if they are located in different countries and have agreed to accept arbitration outside of Uzbekistan, or if obligations arising from a commercial relationship must be performed abroad. However, international arbitration cannot be used if a case is under consideration of a court in Uzbekistan. (Art. 4.)
Under this law, an arbitration agreement is defined as an agreement of the parties to refer to arbitration all or certain disputes that have arisen or may arise between them in connection with any particular legal relationship. The law requires that the agreement be concluded in writing and deems the requirement to have been satisfied “if the content of the arbitration agreement or contract is specified in any form, whether on the basis of the actions of the parties or by other means, regardless of whether the arbitration agreement or contract was concluded orally.” The agreement to arbitrate a dispute can also be established by electronic communication. (Art. 12.)
The ICA Law exempts arbitrators, experts appointed by the court, and arbitral institutions and their employees from liability for any action or inaction conducted in relation to arbitral proceedings unless it is proven that the action or inaction was intentional. (Art. 6.)
National courts in Uzbekistan are prohibited from interfering in arbitral proceedings unless judicial involvement is required to enforce an arbitral decision, the arbiter is unable to make a decision, or the court finds that the dispute cannot be resolved through arbitration under Uzbek legislation. (Art. 8.)
Parties participating in international commercial arbitral proceedings can represent themselves or be represented by duly appointed representatives, including international organizations and foreign citizens. (Art. 38.)
The language used for an arbitration proceeding must also be established by the parties. In the absence of such an arrangement, the arbitration court determines the language or languages that are to be used in the trial proceedings. (Art. 36.)
Article 51 of the law requires that the original arbitration agreement or a certified copy of it be presented at the stage of recognition and enforcement of an award. The arbitral award, regardless of the country in which it was made, is recognized as binding and is enforceable when a written application is submitted to an Uzbek court. (Art. 51.)
The law provides for equality in an arbitration proceeding and requires that all parties have a “reasonable opportunity” to present their case. (Art. 33.)
The ICA Law also addresses a number of other issues, including the procedure for the election and appointment of arbitrators, and the grounds for petitioning the court to terminate the powers of arbitrators who fail to properly perform their functions. (Arts. 15, 16, 19, 20.) In addition, the law contains provisions relating to the application, amendment, suspension, and cancellation of interim measures during arbitration proceedings. (Arts. 23, 25, 26, 30, 31.)