The Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC)’s Fast Track Procedure under the AIAC Arbitration Rules 2023 provides for expedited arbitration proceedings, with shorter timelines for the disposal of the entire arbitration. [Schedule 4]

What is the AIAC Fast Track Procedure used for?

If you are involved in an international arbitration and the disputed amount is less than USD300,000, or if it is in a domestic arbitration and the disputed amount is less than RM1,000,000, then such disputes shall be arbitrated under the AIAC Fast Track Procedure. [Clause 1.2(b) of Schedule 4]

If the amounts are higher than what is prescribed above, parties can still opt to go through the AIAC Fast Track Procedure by mutual consent. Parties may even incorporate this at the outset, by agreeing in their dispute resolution clause that disputes will be arbitrated using the AIAC Fast Track Procedure. [Clause 1.2(a) of Schedule 4]

What if you have initially agreed to the AIAC Fast Track Procedure but now want to opt out of it? 

Parties can mutually agree to opt out of the AIAC Fast Track Procedure and this can be done at any time during the arbitral proceedings. [Clause 2.1 of Schedule 4]

If only one party wants to withdraw from the AIAC Fast Track Procedure, then that party can make a request to the arbitrator. However, the arbitrator can only allow such request under exceptional circumstances and after hearing submissions from both parties. [Clause 2.2 of Schedule 4]

How much does it cost to pursue arbitration under the AIAC Fast Track Procedure?

The arbitrator’s fees and AIAC administrative fees under the AIAC Fast Track Procedure are lower compared to the conventional procedure under the AIAC Arbitration Rules. The difference in the fees is particularly prominent when the amount in dispute is larger. [Schedule 1C & 1D]

Furthermore, there would only be 1 sole arbitrator presiding over the AIAC Fast Track Procedure, as mandated under Clause 6 of Schedule 4. This is cheaper compared to having a panel of up to 3 arbitrators under the conventional procedure.

What is the difference in the timeline between the AIAC Fast Track Procedure and the conventional procedure under the AIAC Arbitration Rules?

Stage of the proceedings Conventional procedure AIAC Fast Track Procedure
Commencement of arbitration Arbitration commenced when the notice of arbitration is served on AIAC.
[Rule 2]

Statement of claim to be served in accordance with the directions of the constituted arbitral tribunal.
[Article 20] 

Arbitration commenced when the notice of arbitration is served on AIAC.
[Rule 2]

However, the notice of arbitration has to be served together with statement of claim to the respondent. As such, the statement of claim would have to be prepared before the sole arbitrator is appointed.
[Clause 4 of Schedule 4]

Response to the notice of arbitration The respondent has to respond to the notice of arbitration within 30 days from the day it received the notice of arbitration.
[Article 4]
The respondent has to respond to the notice of arbitration within 15 days from the day it received the notice of arbitration.
[Clause 5 of Schedule 4]
Statement of defence The statement of defence to be served in accordance with the directions of the constituted arbitral tribunal.
[Article 20] 
The respondent to serve its statement of defence to the claimant, the sole arbitrator and AIAC within 15 days from the day the sole arbitrator is appointed.
[Clause 5 of Schedule 4]
Arbitral Award The arbitral tribunal shall prepare the draft final award for technical review within 90 days from the date of the closure of proceedings. The award will be delivered to the parties upon the completion of the technical review by AIAC.
[Rule 16]
The award shall be made within 6 months from the date of the appointment of the sole arbitrator.
[Clause 15 of Schedule 4]

Can you request to extend the timelines of the AIAC Fast Track Procedure?

The arbitrator has the discretion at any stage of the proceedings to extend the timelines provided under the AIAC Fast Track Procedure provided that the parties’ views are first heard. [Clause 9 of Schedule 4]

Is the AIAC Fast Track Procedure arbitration a “documents only” arbitration?

There will still be hearing where each party will call witnesses to provide their testimony and be cross-examined. The arbitrator may decide which witnesses are required to testify if a hearing is held. The arbitrator also has the discretion to dispense with any hearing, provided that the views of both parties have been heard and there has not been a request by any party that a hearing should be held. [Clause 10 & 14 of Schedule 4]

Are there any differences in enforcing or setting aside an arbitral award arising from the AIAC Fast Track Procedure?

No, there is no difference. The procedure to enforce or set aside an arbitral award under the AIAC Fast Track Procedure is the same as that of an award obtained under the conventional AIAC Arbitration Rules.  

Is the AIAC Fast Track Procedure the same thing as emergency arbitration?

No. While both the AIAC Fast Track Procedure and emergency arbitration [Schedule 3] aim to expedite the arbitration process, the AIAC Fast Track Procedure focuses on speeding up the entire arbitration process, whereas emergency arbitration specifically addresses the need for urgent interim relief before the full arbitration proceedings can take place.

Why go for the AIAC Fast Track Procedure?

The purpose of the AIAC Fast Track Procedure is to expedite proceedings and reduce expenses, especially for cases involving relatively small sums. If parties anticipate that the monetary dispute arising from a contract is unlikely to exceed a certain threshold (e.g., less than RM1 million), they can consider integrating the AIAC Fast Track Procedure into their arbitration agreement. This proactive approach can significantly expedite the arbitration process, benefiting all involved parties.

***
This article was written by Sean Ferdinand Ng (Associate) from Donovan & Ho’s dispute resolution practice. 

Donovan & Ho is a law firm in Malaysia. Our dispute resolution provides advice and legal representation in the civil and industrial courts. We also represent clients in both domestic and international arbitration, as well as other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Our experienced lawyers are also able to assist in commercial and civil disputes (such as debt recovery, shareholders’ or directors’ disputes, breach of contract and claims for injunctive relief), constructive disputes (arbitration and/or adjudication proceedings, disputes relating to delays, liquidated damages, defects and rectification work) and employment disputes (unfair dismissal claims, judicial review proceedings, and employment-related civil claims). Have a question? Please contact us.

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