Arbitration is becoming more and more popular in Uzbekistan as an alternative to litigation. With the adoption of the Arbitration Law in 2006, the number of arbitration tribunals established in Uzbekistan reached nearly 300 in 2021. One of the most active is a network of arbitration courts under Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan (CCI).
The CCI confirms that more than 20,000 cases were heard by all CCI arbitration courts across Uzbekistan in 2019–21.
The main trend of arbitration in Uzbekistan in 2018–21 is a move towards international commercial arbitration. As part of this trend, an international arbitration court was established under the CCI which currently accepts cases under Uzbekistan law. CCI reports show that nearly 90 cases have already been heard in 2020–21.
Previous arbitration law allowed cases to be accepted and heard only under Uzbekistan law and, therefore, a special law on international commercial arbitration has been enacted in 2021 to allow cases under foreign law to be accepted and heard. The law is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.
1.2 Impact of COVID-19
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the number of arbitration filings. The vast majority of arbitration courts ceased activities, with only a few remaining active and accepting cases either without inviting the parties to attend arbitration hearings or preferring to conduct hearings through online platforms. Despite a significant slowdown during the pandemic, all arbitration courts under the CCI accepted and reviewed 5,911 cases in 2020 and have already reviewed nearly 4,330 cases during the first six months of 2021. The filing rate in 2020–21 seems to have stabilised and is now rapidly increasing.
1.3 Key Industries.
Observations of arbitration trends by practitioners suggest that the construction, infrastructure, banking and trading sectors have been very active in making use of international arbitration in recent years. Based on active reforms and development of projects, it is also possible to identify energy, automobiles and telecommunications as industries subject to growth in terms of involvement in international arbitration.
We have not noticed a significant decrease in arbitration cases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in any specific industries. On the contrary, we saw an increase in arbitration cases in various professional services and wholesale trading industries.
Authors: Nodir Yuldashev, Partner; Rustam Akramov, Counsel of GRATA Uzbekistan.