European Aviation Arbitration Court Takes Flight

In Short

The Situation: In July 2022, the Netherlands Arbitration Institute launched the Hague Court of Arbitration for Aviation ("Hague CAA"), an aviation arbitration court and mediation center seated in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Result: A diverse team of nearly 70 aviation attorneys, executives, and technical experts specifically designed the Hague CAA to handle aviation disputes through bespoke arbitration and mediation rules featuring lists of vetted neutrals experienced in resolving aviation disputes.

The Outlook: The establishment of the Hague CAA is in itself an accomplishment worthy of praise. The Hague CAA will serve as a welcome forum for resolving aviation disputes within the aviation industry.

An Independent European Aviation Dispute Center Designed by Diverse Experts

Dozens of aviation and arbitration attorneys and technical experts collaborated to create the Hague CAA to serve the global aviation industry through its arbitration and mediation centers. The center is the first of its kind in Europe and the first with an independent and impartial focus and without any allegiance to a particular industry group. Conveniently located in The Hague, Netherlands, the Hague CAA offers an ideal forum for aviation disputes through its bespoke arbitration and mediation rules.

Arbitration is particularly well-suited for aviation disputes, which are often international in nature. Through arbitration, parties can select a neutral venue for disputes between international parties, thereby eliminating any perceived home-court advantage. Arbitration awards are final and binding and, unlike court decisions, enforceable in almost 170 countries that are signatories to the New York Convention.

Due to their highly technical nature, aviation disputes benefit from experienced fact finders and decision-makers who are familiar with the issues and factual scenarios typical to aviation disputes. Unlike in litigation, in arbitration, the parties can nominate experienced decision-makers to decide the dispute, thereby reducing the uncertainty that the nuances of aviation disputes may be lost on the decision-maker.

Custom-Tailored Arbitration Rules Designed for Aviation Disputes

Through the guidance of leading arbitration specialists, the Hague CAA has produced a set of user-friendly and fast-paced rules with the features of competing modern arbitration rules. 

For ease of use by the aviation community, the Hague CAA rules provide model clauses for insertion into contracts and detailed, user-friendly explanations of the issues to be addressed under the model clauses. Notably, the model clauses innovate by encouraging the parties to specify the law applicable to the arbitration agreement. This welcome innovation will help avoid inconsistent interpretations of the parties' intent across jurisdictions.

Arbitration under the Hague CAA is fast-paced. The initiation of proceedings, and the proceedings themselves, under the rules are designed to go twice as fast as most international arbitrations. The relatively high claim-value ceiling of EUR 10 million for the automatic application of expedited rules will speed up many proceedings even further. The practical effect of these provisions is not only quicker proceedings, but also encouraged use of the Hague CAA's maintained list of vetted neutrals with experience in resolving aviation disputes through short deadlines for appointment.

The Hague CAA arbitration rules include all of the features of modern arbitration rules, including liberalized consolidation and joinder, emergency arbitration, expedited proceedings, electronic submissions, and hybrid hearings. This should come as no surprise considering the inclusion of leading arbitration practitioners on the rules standing committee.

Lists of Experienced Vetted Neutrals

The Hague CAA encourages the use of a list of vetted neutrals in both its arbitration and mediation rules. These lists feature neutrals with experience arbitrating or mediating aviation disputes.

The use of the lists are systematically encouraged through the Hague CAA's arbitration and mediation rules. The arbitration rules encourage the use of the lists by setting short deadlines for appointment, with arbitrators from those lists appointed by default after those deadlines have passed. The mediation rules apply the list method by default, allowing the appointment of mediators from outside the published panel list of approved mediators only in "the event of compelling reasons." Indeed, the use of these proprietary lists are rightfully encouraged, as they ensure that qualified and experienced neutrals are selected and are a distinguishing feature of the Hague CAA.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Independent and Eurocentric Aviation Disputes Center—The Hague CAA is the first of its kind as an independent and neutral aviation dispute resolution center based in Europe.
  2. Arbitration Rules Designed for Aviation Disputes—The Hague CAA's bespoke arbitration rules are user-friendly and fast-paced with all of the features of modern arbitration rules.
  3. Lists of Experienced Neutrals—The Hague CAA's proprietary lists of neutrals ensure that experienced neutrals are selected and distinguish the Hague CAA from nonspecialized dispute resolution centers.
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