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The former Soviet republic of Georgia may become an international arbitration centre to sit alongside London, Paris, Stockholm and the US if a collaborative project involving Norton Rose goes ahead
Arbitrations currently take place in Georgia but are subject to rules governed in the main by the International Chamber of Commerce, the American Arbitration Association, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and the London Court of International Arbitration. Parties have to incorporate into contracts where and under what rules arbitrations should take place. Norton Rose has been involved in meetings with the Georgian Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has been assigned to draft rules for the country's proposed arbitration centre. The firm is collaborating with Georgia's largest law firm, MKD. It is hoped that many Eastern European disputes will take place both physically at the arbitration centre in the Geogian capital Tbilisi and also under its rules and procedures. There is an increasing volume of arbitrations arising out of Eastern Europe, partly because of concerns about corruption in its courts. In future, contracts drawn up across the globe could incorporate the Georgian Chamber of Commerce rules, which would supervise the selection of two arbitrators agreed between the parties and select a third arbitrator. Norton Rose is working on the project under the helm of corporate litigation partner Juliet Blanch. She said: "They need help drafting the rules so they don't just copy other arbitration rules and also so they can relate them to the sorts of cases coming out of Eastern Europe. "It is right and proper that there should be a good arbitration centre in Eastern Europe. It may start off handling arbitrations relating to investments in Georgia; it could then expand to include Western investment." It will be advantageous for Georgia in terms of making people more confident about doing business there and in Eastern Europe as a whole. Blanch said more states are seeking acceptance as arbitration centres because of growth in the number of arbitrations arising out of more international trade and cross-border work. However, to get acceptance, countries need to ensure that their arbitrations are carried out independently of state interference. Norton Rose has close links with Eastern Europe and was recently instructed for the first time by the government of Georgia in an arbitration in Washington DC. A consortium is clai-ming damages relating to an agreement for the renovation and operation of a hydro-power station responsible for providing the vast majority of Tbilisi's water.