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What choice do I have when it comes to agreeing an arbitral tribunal? 


In addition to the GMAA arbitration there are also similar arbitral proceedings in London (London Maritime Arbitration Association – LMAA), New York (Society of Maritime Arbitrators – SMA), China, Singapore, Dubai, Paris and certain other maritime hubs. The largest number of maritime arbitration proceedings in the world without doubt are carried out in England. You can find more information on foreign arbitration organisations here.


Does the GMAA communicate with these organisations abroad? 


Yes. There is a lively exchange of information and ideas, above all at the international IMCA conferences. You can find more detail on this on the ICMA website here. Above, GMAA entered into special cooperation agreements with the Dubai International Arbitration Centre and with the China Maritime Arbitration Commission.


What are the main differences between German and English arbitration?


  1. In English arbitration there is the process of disclosure, in the framework of which the arbitrators can direct that one party has to provide the other party with a chance to view documents, data and e-mails which relate to the matter at hand, even if they are detrimental to the disclosing party’s case. In Germany, each party has to fight with its own “weapons”, i.e. it relies on the evidence it has available to it. Generally, there is therefore no need to disclose detrimental evidence in Germany.
  2. In England the arbitrators have a very passive role and rule on what has been presented to them. In Germany the arbitrators are requested to contribute actively to clarifying the matter at hand by means of asking productive questions and giving directions.
  3. In England as a rule the arbitrators may not make settlement proposals. In Germany the arbitrator is always also a mediator who conducts the proceedings, but who is also always aiming for a settlement.

Some of the differences with the systems are highlighted by the following book: Klaus-A. Gerstenmaier, "The 'German Advantage' – Myth or Model?", SchiedsVZ 2010, 21.


What are the important differences between German and US arbitration?


Arbitration under the Society of Maritime Arbitrators (SMA) in the USA is similar in many respects to the English proceedings (see responses to question 3). The members of the SMA are, in contrast to the arbitrators in England and Germany, all not of a legal background.

A comparison of German and US arbitration can be found in: John Langbein, “The German Advantage in Civil Procedure”, 52 U.Chi.L.Rev 823 [1985].


Is the GMAA better than the LMAA (London Maritime Arbitration Association)?


That cannot be said as a blanket statement. In a thesis from 2006, J.J. Rieckhoff examined and compared both proceedings in detail. After 346 pages, he came to the following conclusions: “London’s advantage as a maritime arbitration location is in fact more based on traditional considerations than on rule-related advantages of the English system.” And: “Therefore, Hanseatic arbitration in Hamburg/Bremen is already currently at least at the same level as English arbitration in London, if it is not already to be preferred.”

Klaus-A. Gerstenmaier ("The 'German Advantage' – Myth or Model?", SchiedsVZ 2010, 21) writes: "I'm convinced that the German system might serve as a useful model to increase efficiency in international arbitration and, thereby, to reduce the level of costs and the duration in particular of complex cases."


Is the GMAA less expensive than the LMAA?


Yes. This is due to various factors:

  1. The hourly rates of German lawyers are consistently lower than those of English lawyers.
  2. Due to strict relevance checks under German procedural law all non-relevant matters are kept out of the arbitration proceedings which are therefore streamlined.
  3. In Germany there is no “discovery”, which costs both time and money;
  4. The oral proceedings are significantly shorter in Germany than in London.
  5. The English arbitrators charge according to the number of hours worked, whereas the German arbitrators set their fees according to a fixed scale, which you can find here.


Is the GMAA quicker than the LMAA?


That is difficult to say. The duration of proceedings depends greatly on the complexity of the dispute which is to be decided upon. As, however, in Germany the arbitrators are constantly working towards a settlement and there is often success in negotiating a compromise between the parties, many proceedings in Germany are not conducted until their natural end, which accelerates the settlement of the dispute. Well over half of all arbitration proceedings end with a settlement being reached.


Should German or English law be agreed upon?


In international maritime contracts – for example charter parties or shipbuilding contracts – on the whole the application of English law is agreed upon. This has simply been the development over the past centuries. There are no (longer) objective reasons for this. Nevertheless, in the area of maritime transport it is often difficult to convince one’s contracting partner to dispense with these traditions. The advantages of German law are emphatically shown in a brochure produced by the German Legal Profession Associations called “Law made in Germany”, which can be accessed


Can the GMAA be chosen despite the applicability of English law?


Yes. Even if the material legal questions are in accordance with English law, the proceedings to clear up the dispute can be based on German principles. However, this has to be expressly agreed upon at the outset, for example with the clause “GMAA Arbitration in Hamburg, English substantive law to apply.” There is a sufficiently large number of arbitrators in Germany with English law competency.


Can a GMAA arbitral tribunal sit abroad?


No, because each country has its own rules on the authorisation of arbitral tribunals. The GMAA rules are tailored to the German rules. These only apply when the arbitral tribunal sits in Germany. However, the arbitral tribunal can conduct individual hearings – including in the framework of the taking of evidence – abroad.


Can I enforce a GMAA arbitral award outside Germany?


Yes. German arbitration awards are enforceable almost everywhere in the world following the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards from 1958.


Can the GMAA proceedings take place in English?


Yes. The proceedings can take place in any language the parties wish for, provided that the arbitrators can speak it.