The AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre have been functioning since January 2018. The AIFC eJustice e-filing system was launched to resolve disputes online.
Restrictive measures, closed borders owing to the coronavirus, and costly fees for organizing litigation all work against companies seeking to resolve disputes in foreign arbitration courts. Businesspeople and investors, for their part, want access to similarly high-quality options. In this sense, the Astana International Financial Centre’s judicial bodies, whose jurisdiction is founded on the norms and principles of England and Wales, are now in demand as the number one choice for commercial dispute resolution in Eurasia region.
Continuing to acquaint readers with the activities of the AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre, analysts FinReview.info studied how justice is being served in the financial centre during the pandemic and identified several key features.
First, online justice at the AIFC Court and IAC became available even before the pandemic
Central Asia has shown strong growth in foreign direct investment in recent years and, despite the global decline in investment flows, could become a new frontier for international capital. However, the issue of access to quality justice remains relevant for businessmen and investors. Therefore, the AIFC, which is the investment hub of the region, has developed mechanisms that provide the services of the Court and the International Arbitration Centre online while maintaining full functionality.
In practice, this means that any person or legal entity not only from Central Asia, but also from around the world can use judicial services through the eJustice system developed back in 2019. The actual process of considering cases remains unchanged – the proceedings are also conducted by British judges, arbitrators and mediators with experience in international legal proceedings and the English common law system.
Secondly, resolving disputes at the AIFC Court and IAC is free of charge
There is a moratorium on court and arbitration fees until the end of 2021. That is, payment for filing applications, administration and hearings is not charged. The parties to a dispute pay only for the work of the hired lawyers – as it happens in the usual manner.
All parties to a contract which is agreed before 31 December 2021 and includes the AIFC Court for dispute resolution will be eligible to receive free administration of any dispute resolution at the AIFC Court under that contract before and after 31 December 2021.The number of such commercial contracts has already exceeded 5 thousand. Among them are the Kazakhstan offices of the largest energy corporations Chevron and Tengizchevroil LLP.
Thirdly, the services of the AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre are available to absolutely everyone.
The AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre can resolve disputes not only of the bodies, participants and employees of the financial centre, but also by companies or individuals who are not any of the above or may even located outside Kazakhstan. There are only two conditions for this. First, a bilateral agreement is required to use the financial centre bodies to resolve the dispute. And secondly, the dispute should be commercial or civil, not criminal or administrative.
Fourthly, the wide geography of execution of the decisions rendered
Decisions of the AIFC Court are enforced in Kazakhstan and other countries with which our country has such agreements. Among them, for example, Russia and other CIS countries. Arbitral awards, in turn, are enforceable almost worldwide in accordance with the New York Convention of 1958.
Fifth, educational programs are in place to understand the foundations of AIFC Court and IAC legal proceedings
The AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre support the provision of high-quality legal education for lawyers. For this purpose, a whole range of educational programs has been organized. This includes lectures on legal issues, dispute resolution and common law, which are regularly given by judges of the AIFC Court in cooperation with state and commercial partners, various webinars with the participation of judges and arbitrators, speeches at online international conferences. An example is the AIFC Court Moot, which is now in the fourth year, and is the first arbitration moot among students IAC Online Central Asia Vis Pre- Moot, held in February 2021, and included teams from seventeen countries around the world.
At the same time, not all educational programs are focused only on practicing lawyers and judges. There are programs dedicated to the basics of English common law, which are suitable for absolutely everyone, because the institutions of England and Wales are a fairly new phenomena for Kazakhstan. This includes the developed AIFC Law App, which will help you learn more about the jurisdiction of the AIFC and its acting law. The application allows you to study the acts of the AIFC, watch short training videos, take tests, be aware of the latest news and events, leave feedback on the draft acts of the AIFC, as well as identify a suitable law firm that meets the required needs and budget.