Prior to the revision of the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board's International Arbitration Rules, all cases submitted to the board under arbitration clauses that did not specify "International Arbitration Rules" govern the arbitration -would lead to the local arbitration rules being applied and the language of the arbitration being English.
A client that was working with one of the other law firms in Korea, got caught up in this issue and, luckily, we were able to amend a joint venture agreement (amended for a variety of reasons) to take into account the disadvantage that could have been appreciated if arbitration was required.
Many foreign companies, prior to this amendment, quickly realized that they hired attorneys that were not aware that the local arbitration rules would apply.
We recommend, always, having multiple internationally-experienced attorneys looking at your agreements or you, also, may be stuck with an agreement that may not adequately protect your interests.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.