The use of arbitration for resolution of disputes in Kazakhstan commenced in 1991, immediately after the former Soviet Central Asian republic gained independence. The Republic Kazakhstan is a party to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
The main law regulating arbitration proceedings is the Law on Arbitration dated (2016), which consolidated the 2004 Law on International Arbitration and the 2004 Law on Arbitral Tribunals. This law provides the general framework for arbitration proceedings and enforcement of arbitral awards.
Several institutions provide arbitration services in Kazakhstan, including the Arbitration Centre at the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, the International Arbitration Centre at the Astana International Financial Centre, and Kazakhstan International Arbitrage.
In Kazakhstan, the benefits of arbitration for the resolution of commercial disputes (particularly, those involving large businesses) are widely recognized within the business community.
Historically, dispute resolution techniques similar to mediation were known to the Kazakhstani people when, in medieval times, wise village elders were requested to bring the disputing parties to a common ground.
In contrast with the use of arbitration, and despite some similar cultural traditions that date from the medieval period, statewide promotion and recognition of mediation started in Kazakhstan only with the adoption of the Law on Mediation in 2011. The Law on Mediation (2011) remains the primary law providing the general framework for mediation. It establishes the types of civil and criminal cases in which mediation may be used, qualification criteria for mediators, and requirements applicable to mediation proceedings.
The government and Supreme Court of Kazakhstan are promoting the use of mediation, and efforts exist at the state level to utilize mediation techniques in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations.
Under the 2018 legislative amendments, the People’s Assembly of Kazakhstan, the statewide organization uniting representatives of different ethnicities, was tasked with the promotion of mediation. For a few years now, “A Day of Mediation” has been celebrated in Kazakhstan. On that day, various conferences and activities are organized throughout the country to explain the benefits of mediation and promote its use in dispute resolution.
While the number of mediations is slowly growing throughout the country, it use is not yet well recognized, particularly for the resolution of commercial disputes.
By Tolegen Myrzabayev, Senior Fellow – Kazakhstan, Weinstein International Foundation