In 2019 the AIFC Court and International Arbitration Centre (further – “IAC”) considered five cases. This was an outstanding achievement compared to the experience of similar common law financial centre courts and international arbitration centres at this stage of their operations.
Earlier this year the AIFC Court considered its first litigation and gave judgment in a small claims contract non-payment dispute involving an AIFC Participant and a foreign party. All enforcement measures available in Kazakhstan were implemented quickly and directly between the AIFC Court and the Kazakhstan enforcement authorities. This case was managed electronically from initiation to completion. The IAC recently received its first arbitration case and hosted three mediation cases. All cases have been managed quickly applying the best international standards of case management and without charge to the parties.
Following a comprehensive promotions campaign in 2019 and meetings with senior lawyers and executives at corporations in Kazakhstan, the wider Central Asia region and globally, the AIFC Court and IAC were included in a minimum of 1300 business contracts for future dispute resolution purposes under those contracts. It is expected as normal practice for there to be a lead time before disputes will arise under such contracts and the AIFC Court and IAC are ready and able to administer any future commercial disputes under these and other contracts.
The AIFC Court and IAC launched their eJustice system in 2019 to enable parties without charge to have their commercial disputes resolved electronically using the most up to date digital technology. Their world class premises at the EXPO-2017 site were officially opened by the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. New international standard services were launched for judicial mediation at the AIFC Court and a special arbitration-mediation or “arb-med” procedure at the IAC. The AIFC Court and IAC signed 17 cooperation agreements with leading dispute resolution centres, law societies and business associations in Kazakhstan, the UK and Asia, significantly raising their profile and international recognition.
More than 300 Kazakh national law students, lawyers, and academics were trained by the AIFC Court and IAC to ensure they have the common law dispute resolution skills that are necessary to represent clients in disputes at the AIFC Court and IAC. For this purpose the AIFC Court and IAC partnered with Cambridge University, leading advocates from London, and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.
The Registrar and Chief Executive of the AIFC Court and IAC, Mr. Christopher Campbell-Holt, commented:
“2019 has been a very productive year of achievement for the AIFC Court and IAC. Ahead of expectations for our type of new court and arbitration centre we have received and managed several cases and achieved quick enforcement of our first case at the AIFC Court. We have developed and launched the very best digital technology. We have hired the best Kazakh national Registry staff and trained them to international standards with our partners in London and Singapore. We have launched outstanding new services and raised regional and international recognition with 17 cooperation agreements signed. Our dispute resolution is quick, accessible, cost effective, impartial, and above all, incorruptible. We have exciting plans for 2020 and look forward to our continued success as we strive to be the number one choice for commercial dispute resolution in Central Asia.”
AIFC. The AIFC was established on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. In December 2015 President Nazarbayev approved the Constitutional Statute “On the Astana International Financial Centre” (AIFC). The aim of the AIFC is to establish a leading international centre for financial services. The objectives of the AIFC are to attract investment into the economy through the establishment of an attractive environment for investment in financial services, develop local capital markets, ensuring their integration with the international capital markets.
The AIFC Court. The AIFC Court is an independent legal entity. It has its own procedural rules modelled on English common law procedures and leading international practice. The AIFC Court is separate and independent from the courts of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It consists of two tiers: a Court of First Instance, which includes a specialist division known as the Small Claims Court; and a Court of Appeal. It has exclusive jurisdiction over disputes arising out of the activities and operations of the AIFC and jurisdiction in the case of other disputes in which all parties agree in writing to give the AIFC Court jurisdiction. It does not have jurisdiction in relation to any disputes that are of a criminal or administrative nature. It applies the most up to date and efficient case management practices.
The International Arbitration Centre (IAC).The International Arbitration Centre (IAC) is an independent legal entity. It has its own procedural rules modelled on best international practice. It has its own panel of leading international arbitrators and mediators having many years of arbitration and mediation experience in commercial law, including oil and gas, trade, construction, energy, financial services, banking, Islamic finance, insurance, and intellectual property. IAC arbitration awards are recognised and enforceable in Kazakhstan and internationally.