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Myanmar: Draft Arbitration Bill

A version of this article was originally published by Practical Law Arbitration http://uk.practicallaw.com/country/arbitration.

On 25 May 2014, the Myanmar Parliament published a draft Arbitration Bill. This follows less than one year after Myanmar acceded to the New York Convention in July 2013 (see Legal update, Myanmar accedes to New York Convention). The publication of the Arbitration Bill marks a further milestone for Myanmar in its commitment to the development of its arbitration regime.

The Arbitration Bill is divided into two parts, the first dealing with arbitration in Myanmar and the second dealing with the enforcement of foreign arbitration awards. It will replace the existing legislation, enacted in 1944, which applies only to domestic arbitration. The Arbitration Bill will apply to both domestic and international arbitration, whether ad hoc or administered. It largely follows the UNCITRAL Model Law, and, for example, contains express provisions prohibiting court intervention in arbitrations, except as provided for in the Bill (reflecting Article 5 of the Model Law).

However, there are a number of deviations from international practice, including express provisions providing that, for arbitrations seated in Myanmar that fall outside the definition of International Commercial Arbitration, the substantive law will be Myanmar law. If enacted, this provision would curtail the parties’ right to choose a foreign law as the substantive law of the arbitration in those circumstances.

The Arbitration Bill remains subject to amendment before being passed into law, but represents a positive step by Myanmar in the modernisation of its arbitration regime and reflects a commitment to develop a system for dispute resolution that will reassure and encourage foreign investment into Myanmar.