On 2 October, the Scottish Arbitration Centre and the Centre for Energy Policy, Mineral Law and Petroleum (CEPMLP) launched the International Centre for Energy Arbitration (ICEA) in Edinburgh. The ICEA is a joint venture between the two partners.
The initial work of the ICEA has been split into two phases. The first phase of the project is a six-month research period involving the consultation of energy companies on what they want from the arbitration process. The second phase involves evaluating the research with a view to developing a bespoke set of energy arbitration rules. The Scottish Arbitration Centre has stated that it intends the ICEA to develop numerous other projects, notably establishing a panel of energy arbitration experts.
The launch of ICEA is an interesting development focussing on an industry that is one of the largest users of arbitration. No doubt the initial focus will be on securing North Sea related disputes. However, the presence of many skilled energy professionals, energy companies and service providers in Scotland may in time see the scope of arbitrations dealt with by the centre widen beyond local disputes. The initiative will also encourage users to arbitrate in Scotland, which with the enactment of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 has a modern arbitral regime ready and willing to be put to the test.