The National Commercial Arbitration Centre (NCAC) has announced the success of its first online hearing for commercial dispute resolution as part of a new pattern of service delivery enacted in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to an NCAC press release on December 16, the two-day oral hearing was conducted on December 3 and 4 with 30 participants including a three-member arbitration tribunal, representatives and counsel of the disputant parties, witnesses and members of the NCAC’s general secretariat.

Participants in the hearing attended from Cambodia, Macau, China, Hungary and Japan. The dispute involved foreign parties in a financial transaction relating to a real estate deal.

The press release declared that the success of the new procedure illustrates the NCAC’s ability to innovate effective administration of arbitration cases in response to the new norm of service delivery caused by Covid-19.

The third-party joinder provision of the NCAC arbitration rules was also applied for the first time in this case.

Bun Youdy, president of the NCAC, told The Post on December 16 that he was proud of the NCAC upholding its commitment to deliver an effective mechanism for commercial dispute resolution despite ongoing challenges related to the global pandemic.

“Thanks to significant investment that NCAC made into the IT infrastructure since the beginning of this year and to serious preparation by our General Secretariat, we are pleased to achieve a new milestone in terms of service delivery in helping businesses resolving disputes,” Youdy said.

He confirmed that prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the NCAC resolved disputes on-site and in-person, and some hearings at the centre were ongoing as the pandemic unfolded. But with this initial case being heard online, the NCAC is following a trend established by its international counterparts.

“There were complications in conducting these online hearings because participants were spread across different time zones – some in Europe, some in Cambodia, some in China and some in Japan. We spent a lot of time, but the hearing was conducted successfully and without any problems,” he said.

The NCAC is a non-profit institution established by the 2006 Law on Commercial Arbitration. The organisation seeks to provide businesses with an impartial and effective alternative to the Cambodian court system for the resolution of commercial disputes. Currently, more than 60 arbitrators of various nationalities have been admitted to the NCAC panel.

Since officially beginning operations in 2013, the NCAC has mediated 25 cases, with a total sum in dispute exceeding $72 million.