Long-standing cooperation between CIETAC and VIAC reaches a new level

Vienna chosen as the seat for the CIETAC European Arbitration Centre

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VIAC President Dr. Günther Horvath welcomed the CIETAC European Arbitration Centre in Vienna in its Opening Ceremony held at the Palais Hansen Kempinski on September 28, 2018. The Opening Ceremony was celebrated also by Dr. Lu Pengqi (Vice Chairman CCPIT and Vice Chairman CIETAC), His Excellency Ambassador Li Xiaosi (Ambassador, Chinese Embassy in Austria) and Dr. Zhao Jian (Vice President of CIETAC Arbitration Court). It was followed by “The Belt and Road & Arbitration Forum” and by a visit of the CIETAC/CCPIT delegation at the VIAC offices. CIETAC (China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission) was established in 1956 by CCPIT (China Council for the Promotion of International Trade).

VIAC congratulates CIETAC for choosing Vienna as the seat of the European Arbitration Centre. The reason for this is manifold: Vienna is a major international city in the heart of Europe, it is home to UNCITRAL and to the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, as well as seat of the Energy Community Secretariat's Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Centre. In addition, Vienna was voted the most livable city in the world by both Economist and Mercer.

The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) is a big chance for the arbitration institutions to cooperate closer. VIAC is highly interested to get deeply involved in arbitrations arising out the BRI. It stands ready whenever the parties, e.g. from China and European countries want to agree on a neutral venue and institution. The same applies in all cases where parties from BRI countries seek to arbitrate before a non-involved forum. We consider the BRI as a great opportunity to act as neutral and highly professional Dispute Resolution Institution.

The opening of the CIETAC European Arbitration Centre in Vienna was preceded by long term as well as most recent cooperation between the two arbitration institutions:

VIAC and CIETAC have been cooperating since almost 25 years under a Cooperation Agreement dated June 23, 1994.

In April 2018, AUSTRIA CONNECT China 2018 took place in Beijing on the occasion of the visit of Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, members of the Austrian government and a large business delegation including the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. During this visit, VIAC (represented by its Vice President Nikolaus Pitkowitz) and CIETAC (represented by Mr. Wang Chengjie, Vice Chairman & Secretary General of CIETAC) renewed and expanded their cooperation agreement.

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Foto 3 GH Peking backgroundIn September 2018, the China Arbitration Week took place in Beijing. One of the central events was the 1st CIETAC Global Arbitrators Forum. CIETAC Global Arbitrators Forum invites CIETAC arbitrators from all over the world. At the Forum, a declaration was passed stating that the involved arbitrators believe in fundamental ethics to include impartiality and independence and that their undertakings include confidentiality and integrity. VIAC was represented by its President Dr. Günther Horvath. He was a panelist in the Plenary Session “International Arbitration and the BRI: How Will They Contribute to Each Other?” and spoke to the topic “Will AI and new technologies change traditional arbitration? The BRI provides a unique chance for the change.” In his speech, Dr. Horvath addressed artificial intelligence, smart contracts, hearings by holography and other forms of telepresence, and universal translation in multi-lingual arbitrations. These new groundbreaking technologies are going to change the procedures and actual handling of arbitration cases. Dr. Horvath proposed several steps for the implementation of new technologies in arbitration, including as a first step to issue a “Belt and Road New Technologies Protocol” containing an agreement on a basic level on the use of new technologies in BRI arbitration. Since a wave of cases in connection with the BRI projects is to be expected, it will be of utmost importance to have cost and time efficient methods to run an arbitration. Given VIAC’s enormously flexible and adaptable regime and given its geopolitical location, VIAC stands ready to administer cases within the BRI. 

The 2018 China Arbitration Summit, co-hosted by CIETAC, CCPIT, UNCITRAL and the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (SPC), which also took place within the China Arbitration Week, is one of the most influential gatherings in the field of international commercial arbitration. This year it focused on the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the New York Convention. VIAC was a supporting organization. The panelists discussed the trends and social concerns in domestic and international arbitration development. VIAC Vice-President Dr. Nikolaus Pitkowitz was a speaker in Session III on Culture and Innovation: Impacts on Arbitration by Integration of Different Legal Cultures and New Technologies.

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VIAC has historically been the premier international arbitration institution in Central and Eastern Europe. Just recently VIAC teamed up with the Energy Community by signing a memorandum of understanding with the Energy Community Secretariat’s Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Centre (EDRC) for a cooperation in arbitration and mediation in energy-related disputes with a focus on the European Union and its neighbours. The opening of the CIETAC European Arbitration Centre and the close cooperation between CIETAC and VIAC mark another milestone of VIAC’s unique positioning in the CEE/SEE region.