On 23 December 2021, the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR) published it's new Regulations on Procedures for Resolution of Disputes over which the BCDR has jurisdiction (the New Regulations) in the Official Gazette.
Whilst only at this stage available in Arabic, the New Regulations mark a departure from the norms of civil litigation across the Region.
One of the key reforms is that cases before the BCDR may now be heard entirely in the English language provided that the following criteria are met:
- The contract is in a language other than Arabic;
- The litigants agreement to the use of the English language is contained within the contract, their communication or by special agreement;
- the litigants agreement to use the English language is submitted during the case administration process and within the relevant time.
These reforms have been followed by Decree No. 3 of 2022 which was issued on 19 January 2022 and saw for the the appointment of non-Bahraini and non-Arabic speaking deputies and judges in the Court of Cassation. Such judges have been delegated on a full-time basis to the Court at the BCDR.
Such judges include widely recognised names within the Middle East legal and arbitration community covering a variety of specialisms from general corporate commercial, telecoms, banking & finance and construction amongst others.
The appointment of the new deputies and judges paves the way for Bahrain to be the leading Court system in the region by allowing cases to be heard and judgements to be rendered in the English language.
This not only saves entities the time and cost associated with translation of documentation but provides parties not familiar with the Bahraini Courts with comfort and certainty as to the qualification and experience of judges.
At this stage, whilst no cases have yet been heard, the development will be being closely watched and could lead to the current trend of parties favouring arbitration as the forum for resolving disputes in what could see cheaper and quicker resolutions of disputes.
The new judges are:
- Professor Jan Paulsson
- Mr Neil Kaplan QC
- Dr Michael Hwang SC
- Mr Adrian Cole
- Mr Michael Grosse
- Ms Nadine Debbas Achkar
- Mr Simon Greenberg
- Dr Kareem Hafez
- Ms Amani Khalifa
A link to the press release can be found: BCDR Appointment of Judges