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Overview: Nordic Arbitration - NOMA – already a success story

In 2017, the Nordic Offshore & Maritime Arbitration Asscociation ("NOMA") was established at the initiative of the Nordic countries' Maritime Law Associations.

Ad hoc arbitration has been the customary means of resolving disputes within the shipping and offshore industries in the Nordic countries. However, the concept of establishing a Nordic-wide uniform approach to arbitration, offering a distinct alternative to other international arbitration institutes and regular courts, has been gaining momentum in the Nordics.

The NOMA initiative has been very well received by the industry, with an impressive vote of confidence from the Nordic Marine Insurance Plan, who adopted NOMA as a dispute resolution mechanism from 1 January 2019. The Revision Committee of the Nordic Marine Insurance Plan explained that is was convenient to choose the NOMA-regime as it has “developed arbitration regulation and best practice guidelines to fit Nordic legal tradition and culture.”

The Revision Committee gave in particular two reasons for introducing NOMA into the 2019 version of the Nordic Plan; Firstly because several insurers already have introduced arbitration clauses in their rules, referring disputes to arbitration as their main dispute resolution solution. It was therefore considered convenient to include a similar standard clause in the Nordic Plan. The second reason was related to concerns and uncertainty regarding jurisdiction clauses and recognition and enforcement of judgments from the regular courts after Brexit. On this basis, NOMA was introduced as the default dispute resolution option for insurances effected with a non-Nordic claims leader, while NOMA is optional for insurances effected with a Nordic claims leader.

An increasing number of owners, charterers, operators, builders and suppliers opt for arbitration in accordance with the NOMA Rules in their contracts. We also note an increasing trend in parties agreeing to follow the NOMA Rules and Best Practice principles after a dispute has arisen, even if the agreed arbitration clause in their contract did not refer to NOMA

This is all very encouraging, and it is fair to say that NOMA already has been a great success – offering a pragmatic, transparent and cost-efficient dispute resolution regime, compared to both regular court proceedings and arbitration proceedings under, for example, LLMA or LCIA in London.

Shipping and Offshore is one of the core areas of Simonsen Vogt Wiig, and we are recognised as one of the leading law firms within this business sector. We handle a number of ongoing disputes within various industries at any given time. Several of our partners are frequently appointed as arbitrators.