In many cases, commercial disputes among members of the aviation sector are still resolved by litigation rather than arbitration, even though arbitration may offer several advantages for the parties involved in the dispute. The recently established Hague Court of Arbitration for Aviation (Hague CAA) could contribute to change this by offering specialized arbitration in aviation related matters.
Especially in the context of international commercial disputes within the aviation sector, arbitration offers several advantages compared to litigation. For instance, the possibility to appoint an arbitrator with special knowledge of the aviation sector, aviation law and the technology used instead of having the dispute decided by a judge with no link to the aviation sector, who is often heavily depending on the opinion of expert witnesses. Another practical advantage is that due to the widely ratified New York Convention, the international enforcement of arbitration awards is often much easier than enforcing rulings of national courts.
Further, by choosing arbitration in a country, in which none of the involved parties is based, a possible “homefield advantage” of one party is eliminated. The new Hague CAA is not affiliated with particular parts of the aviation industry and administered by the widely respected Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), which further ensures the court´s neutrality.
Similar to other industry specific courts like the Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA), the Chambre Arbitrage Maritime de Paris (CAMP) or the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Hague CAA´s main selling point is its specialization. By choosing the Hague CAA, parties have access to the court´s pool of aviation law and technology specialists, who can act as arbitrators, mediators, or experts in the proceedings.
As a consequence of its aviation specialization, the Hague CAA´s procedural rules were designed to meet the particular needs of the aviation sector, especially for speed and flexibility. For instance, the parties have the possibility to appoint an emergency arbitrator to decide urgent measures within a maximum of 15 days after his or her appointment. The Hague CAA is also offering more flexibility regarding the location of hearings and the possibility of their virtual attendance compared to litigation in most countries. Additionally, the procedural rules set forth expedited proceedings for amounts in dispute of less than € 10 million or when the parties consent thereto.
Another important way of dispute resolution and valid alternative to litigation is mediation. By choosing this way and finding an amicable solution, parties are often able to avoid high procedural costs and to continue their business relationship relatively unharmed. Mediation is also offered by the Hague CAA.
Overall, many parties are well advised to seriously consider resolving their disputes by mediation or arbitration rather than litigation. For members of the aviation sector, the newly established Hague CAA is a promising new venue for this purpose.