Establishment of the Iranian Specialized Commercial Courts: A Pro-arbitration Stance?

In: Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law Online
Sima Ghaffari Member, Tehran Bar Association
Independent Arbitrator and Representative for the Middle East and Turkey Regional Chapter, ICC Young Arbitration and ADR Forum (YAAF) Tehran Iran

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Rasoul Kashkouli PhD, Member of the Iranian Bar Association
Head of the Arbitration Center of the Iran Chamber (ACIC) Alborz Office
Former Judge of the Iranian courts Tehran Iran

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Following the new approach of the Iranian Judiciary toward the Iranian Commercial Code and recent regulations, including the Guideline pertaining to the establishment of Commercial Courts, specialized commercial branches of Courts were established in Tehran in November 2020. These Commercial Courts are competent to hear, among other types of disputes, arbitration related disputes, both at the domestic and international level.

The role of courts, whether supportive or interventionist, covers matters occurring prior to the commencement of arbitration, during the arbitral proceedings and specifically, after rendering the final arbitral award. It is expected that the specialized commercial judges in these Courts will develop the jurisprudence on arbitration further. Using doctrinal analysis and reviewing some of the latest decisions rendered by these Courts (relating to domestic arbitration), this article explores the jurisdiction of the specialized Commercial Courts and the added value they might bring to the Iranian arbitration forum.

The present article comprises four sections. After recalling the background and jurisdiction of the new Commercial Courts in the first section, the second section will successively explain the potential role of the domestic courts within the arbitration landscape. The third section analyzes the recently published judgements of the Commercial Courts to see how they meet the globally accepted norms and standards in arbitration. The fourth and last section concludes the article which positions the newly established branches of the specialized Commercial Courts as a pro-arbitration stance in Iran. Overall, the article highlights the significance of establishing specialized branches of courts with the presence of judges who are aware of the fundamentals of arbitration in paving the way for Iran to be arbitration friendly.

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