The Thai Arbitration Institute (TAI) was established to promote and develop arbitration as a dispute settlement mechanism for civil and commercial matters.
In January 2017, a much-awaited set of rules came into force. The “2017 Rules” brought about substantial changes in how arbitration in Thailand is conducted. The main objectives of the legislation were to improve the efficiency and consistency of arbitration administered by the TAI. Many procedural omissions were addressed to avoid incongruity in judicial interpretation.
Among the amendments, the Power to Grant Interim Measures was introduced (Article 39), and arbitral tribunals were conferred the right to exercise discretionary powers. Under the Arbitration Act 2002, a plaintiff was only entitled to petition the Court. As of January 2017, parties can petition a tribunal directly, and those tribunals may now grant relief.
Article 13 of the 2017 Rules illustrates a new and more efficient procedure for the consolidation of correlated arbitrations arising from multiple contracts. The rationale behind this revision is that increased efficiency, improved time and cost-effectiveness are achieved by consolidating several court orders in a single hearing, and that inconsistencies, which occur when facts are presented to different tribunals, can be prevented. This article grants the tribunal rather wide discretion and represents a legislation milestone in Thailand.
Other important amendments to the 2003 Rules are:
• Challenge to Appointment of Arbitrators: Whereas previously the law only allowed submission of challenges to the Thai Courts, the 2017 Rules empower the arbitral tribunal to have general jurisdiction, unless the TAI deems it appropriate to appoint an arbitrator to rule on the challenge.
• Procedural Timetable: The arbitral tribunal, after having consulted with the parties, will have to determine the procedural timetable no later than 30 days after having appointed the last arbitrator, and the trials may last no longer than 180 days.
• Service by Email: Electronic correspondence, as well as any other means of communication with record of delivery, are deemed as suitable as hard-copy documents by this legislation.
• Sole Arbitrator by Default: Unless otherwise agreed-upon in writing, it is assumed, by default, that the number of arbitrators to be appointed is one.
• Language: Unless otherwise agreed-upon in writing, the language of an arbitration agreement is, by default, the language of the contract.
• Confidentiality: The confidentiality of arbitrations is not to be assumed but rather explicitly stated in the 2017 Rules.