Space technology is advancing, and as more people commercialize space, we can expect disputes to arise over the use of space resources. It is also expected that disputes over the ownership of space assets, satellite operations, space tourism, and other space-related activities will skyrocket. When such disputes arise, there is a need to find an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that is efficient, time-saving, and cost-effective. That is where space arbitration comes in.
What is Space Arbitration?
Space arbitration is a mechanism that aims to settle disputes related to outer space activities. It involves resolving disputes between parties by referring the case to a tribunal voluntarily chosen by the parties. It means that when parties sign a contract that involves space activities, they agree to refer their case to an arbitration tribunal if any disputes arise. Space arbitration has become popular due to its effectiveness, speed, and cost efficiency. For more information visit Panels of Arbitrators and Experts for Space-related Disputes | PCA-CPA
Which Tribunal to Choose?
There are several arbitral tribunals available to parties, but only a few have the technical expertise and qualifications needed to handle space disputes. Top among them are the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The ICC has a Space Arbitration Center that administers cases in accordance with the ICC rules. The PCA has designed its Space Arbitration Rules specifically for arbitrating disputes related to outer space. The United Nations (UN) also has an option for arbitration called the UN Commercial Space Mediation and Arbitration Rules. The UN tribunal is created to manage specific disputes that arise from space that affect an individual State rather than private disputes.
The choice of choosing the right tribunal depends on the type of dispute, the scale of the claim, and technical knowledge of the tribunal. Parties that want to remain confidential in their arbitration case can choose ICC or PCA as they have a high level of confidentiality. If the dispute relates to an individual State’s claim or concerns sovereignty, the UN tribunal will likely be the best option as it deals with such instances.
How to Proceed with Space Arbitration?
The procedure of space arbitration is similar to any other arbitration. The requesting party initiates the arbitration procedure by submitting a request for arbitration to the chosen tribunal. The parties then select an arbitrator that is suitable for the case’s technical aspects. The tribunal determines the procedural rules, the evidence required, and the timeline for the proceedings. Before the hearing, parties will exchange evidence and conduct expert evidence taking. Finally, the tribunal will deliver its final and binding award, and the parties involved will have an obligation to follow it.
In the end, the choice of the tribunal depends on the type of dispute and the party’s preference of confidentiality. The option of space arbitration is proving to be an effective and efficient means of dispute resolution. As the number of disputes relating to space continues to increase, the need for the right tribunal will continue to grow. Choosing the right tribunal is essential in ensuring that the matter is resolved quickly, cheaply, and efficiently, thereby reducing the risk of failure of space missions, increased costs, and disputes between parties. For more information about arbitrational practice, please visit International Arbitration Attorney – Transnational Matters