Arbitration under the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines
The Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines (“CIAC”) has original and exclusive jurisdiction over disputes arising from, or connected with, contracts entered into by parties involved in construction in the Philippines. Construction disputes may range from contractual money claims to disputes over the execution of the construction work. Construction disputes may involve government or private contracts.
CIAC arbitration is generally faster and more cost efficient than court litigation. The CIAC’s Revised Rules of Procedure mandates that an award should be rendered within 30 days from the time a case is submitted for resolution, but not more than six months from the signing of the Terms of Reference. CIAC-appointed arbitrators also charge lower fees compared to arbitrators under other arbitration institutions and centers.
Unlike in commercial arbitration, where parties are given the right to appoint arbitrators, in CIAC arbitration, it is the CIAC which appoints the arbitrators from a list of CIAC-accredited arbitrators nominated by the parties. The appointment of an arbitrator may be challenged, but the decision of the CIAC to retain or replace an arbitrator is final. Also, unlike commercial arbitration awards which are not subject to court review, CIAC awards may be questioned through an appeal to the Philippine Court of Appeals on grounds not only involving errors of law, but also errors of fact.
The Philippine Supreme Court has categorized the CIAC as an administrative agency performing quasi-judicial functions, even though the CIAC merely administers the arbitration under its rules, and adjudication is done by CIAC-appointed arbitrators.
One of the current issues concerning arbitration under the CIAC is with regard to the enforcement of CIAC awards. Recent issuances of the Supreme Court provide that court sheriffs cannot enforce writs of execution issued by quasi-judicial bodies, including the CIAC. This poses a problem since the CIAC, which does not have its own sheriffs, has historically relied on court sheriffs to execute its awards. A recent decision of the Court of Appeals upheld the power of the CIAC to order a sheriff of the National Labor Relations Commission, a quasi-judicial agency which adjudicates labor disputes, to implement a CIAC award. Given that only Supreme Court decisions become precedents, however, it is uncertain whether sheriffs from the National Labor Relations Commission, or any other quasi-judicial body, will continue to be allowed to enforce CIAC awards.
Ronald Mark C. Lleno specializes in litigation and employment law. His practice areas are litigation (civil, criminal, and administrative), employment law, and taxation law. As a trial lawyer, he handles cases before all levels of the Philippine judiciary, including the Regional Trial Courts, the Court of Tax Appeals, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. He also appears before administrative and quasi-judicial agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Board of Assessment Appeals, and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
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