The AIFC Court and IAC commenced their operations on 1 January 2018 and have resolved 536 cases with 15 judgments, 39 arbitration awards, and 482 mediation settlements. In the first half of 2021, the AIFC Court and IAC resolved 201 cases and additional cases continue to be ongoing. The number of arbitration cases has increased considerably, and mediation case numbers have continued to increase consistently, reducing the need for further case progression to arbitration or litigation.
The parties of the disputes at the AIFC Court and IAC have come from 12 regions within Kazakhstan and 14 countries including Kazakhstan, the UK, China, Russia, India, Canada, Italy, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Poland, Armenia, and Belarus.
The disputes involved a wide variety of commerce and investment related matters including non-payments and other non-compliance of contract obligations, finance, construction, energy, land, property and employment. The applicable laws in the disputes were the laws of the AIFC, Kazakhstan and Russia.
All of the disputes were resolved quickly and cost effectively using the AIFC Court’s and IAC’s cutting-edge eJustice and video hearing digital technology. All judgments and arbitration awards were enforced throughout the entire territory of Kazakhstan to 100% satisfaction using the AIFC Court’s unique step by step enforcement procedure.
The AIFC Court continued to gain international recognition with 281 lawyers granted rights of audience to represent clients in disputes at the AIFC Court. The lawyers come from 27 jurisdictions from 25 countries including the UK, the US, and throughout Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The AIFC Court and IAC signed an MOU with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Zhakyp Assanov. While the AIFC Court and IAC are independent of the national courts of the Republic of Kazakhstan, they cooperate closely on matters of mutual interest. The MOU provided for a procedure for parties, upon their written consent, to transfer commercial and investment related disputes from the national courts of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the AIFC Court and IAC, and for further assistance with the international enforcement of AIFC Court judgments.
Discussions are ongoing with the oil and gas sector of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and large corporations from other industry sectors, to encourage inclusion of the AIFC Court and IAC in the dispute resolution clauses of business contracts. The AIFC Court and IAC have been included as the number one choice for dispute resolution in more than 5,000 business contracts including the contracts of Chevron Tengizchevroil. Disputes arising under contracts in which the AIFC Court and IAC have been listed as the number one choice for dispute resolution are now being decided in cases at the IAC.
A comprehensive promotions and community engagement programme has been implemented with Users’ Committee meetings, webinars with the participation of judges and arbitrators, speaking engagements at online international conferences, mooting or mock trial competitions, and training programmes. Of particular note is the IAC-Vis arbitration moot competition which the IAC hosted online in February 2021. The IAC is the official host of the IAC-Central Asia Vis Arbitration Moot Preliminary Rounds, having partnered with the Association for the Organisation and Promotion of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Twenty-two teams competed from seventeen countries.
Mr. Christopher Campbell-Holt, the Registrar and Chief Executive of the AIFC Court and IAC, commented:
“We are pleased that the AIFC Court and IAC are increasingly trusted by the local, regional and international business communities as safe institutions for commercial dispute resolution that is expeditious, cost-effective, reliable, and always applying the highest international standards of the rule of law. Caseload has increased steadily and considerably ahead of time compared to other international financial centre common law courts and arbitration centres at this stage of development. We continue to gain considerable international recognition among global corporations as the first choice for commercial dispute resolution. We have plans in place to continue this progress and enable the AIFC Court and IAC to protect investors’ rights in accordance with the highest international standards for years to come.”
The Astana International Financial Centre was created by the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev as part of the “100 steps to implement five institutional reforms” national program. The Centre’s development strategy until 2025 was approved by the Management council of the AIFC during the council’s meeting on July 2, 2020. In accordance with the strategy, the vision of AIFC is in becoming the leading financial centre in the region that includes Central Asia, the Caucasus, EAEU countries, western China, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe. The mission of the AIFC is in assisting the sustainable and long-term development of the region. As the head of state Tokayev noted, “AIFC, with its unique opportunities, can act as a universal platform that connects the countries in the region”. The strategic directions for the sustainable development of the AIFC include the development of a circular economy, financial technologies, and “digital financial centre”. https://aifc.kz/
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 disputes that are of a criminal or administrative nature. It applies the most up to date and efficient case management practices. https://court.aifc.kz/
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. https://iac.aifc.kz/