ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS IN FRANCE
Arbitration is an institution of private justice by which parties freely choose arbitrators in order to settle their disputes, which are thereby withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Courts of common law.
Everybody knows that arbitration is essentially consensual by nature and exists only by the will of the parties to engage in this type of procedure to settle their disputes, either by agreement in the form of an arbitration clause included in a contract, or by an agreement signed after the dispute has arisen.
In France, arbitration proceedings are governed by certain provisions of the fourth section of the Code de Procédure Civile. Thus arbitration is, in a way, integrated into the state judicial system, in particular because the place of the arbitration is recognised and established by French procedural laws and because the principles of trial and the right of defence are applicable to arbitrations in the interests of the parties.
In our system, arbitrators are judges. They are judges as much of the Law as of the facts.
In France as well as in other places, we put forward the following advantages which are often cited as the merits of arbitration compared to civil trial proceedings:
– the speedy resolution of disputes as arbitration proceedings are comparatively short;
– the saving, since arbitration costs are much less than those incurred in civil trial proceedings,
– the confidentiality, which is one of the concerns of parties in the resolution of their disputes, with a view to maintairting afterwards good commercial relationship, notwithstanding a punctual dispute;
– the search for a form of justice much more adapted to the nature of the disputes; this aim is reached by the fact that arbitrators must, not only apply the law chosen by the parties, but also take into account the customs of the trade (ie: lex mercatoria);
– the abilities of the arbitrators who are all freely chosen by the parties for their technical skills and personal merits.
Arbitrations are normally organised by institutions established by the different professions of commerce (for instance the wool trade, grain, coffee, cinema industry, journalism etc…).
So, the Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris was founded in 1966, in its present structures, by the maritime professions:
ship-owners, shippers, insurers, ship-brokers and ship-agents. It is a private and independent organisation (an association under the law of 1st July 1901), whose participating members are groups of maritime professionals.
The french law providing that “the arbitrator’s functions can only be entrusted to an individual body”(article 1451 of Code de Procédure Civile) a legal body, designated by the arbitration contract, is limited to organise arbitration proceedings.
Thus the object of the Chamber is to organise and to supervise arbitration proceedings concerning disputes involving international maritime trade as well as national and river trade.