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The Arbitration and Mediation Centre of the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago has proved to be an efficient alternative for the resolution of business disputes in Chile. Around 25 disputes were submitted to the Centre in 1995 and 1996 and the majority were resolved by agreement of the parties with the participation of the arbitrators. Typically, the first phase of arbitration consists of a conciliation effort on the part of the arbitrator exploring alternatives to a negotiated settlement.

The Centre functions as a part of the reputable Chamber of Commerce of Santiago and is associated with the International Chamber of Commerce and the Interamerican Commercial Arbitration Commission (and indirectly with the American Arbitration Association). It has been functioning as an arbitration system since 1993 and mediation services were incorporated in 1996.

The trend in Chile during the next few years will be to prefer alternative dispute resolution methods in commercial, business and international transactions. The court system has an enormous amount of work dealing with minor and inconsequential matters as well as with complex and sophisticated disputes.

The situation can become very troublesome for a foreign party if a local court has to deal with an important business matter that has international ramifications, with documents in various languages, possible conflicts of laws, technical language and other difficulties. The Centre can play a very active role, if the parties have delegated authority, enabling the Centre to choose mediators or arbitrators from its lists, or a more passive role if the parties identified as the individuals in a contractual provision have indicated that arbitration proceedings would be governed by rules of the Centre.

In a further effort to facilitate the efficient resolution of disputes the Centre has identified and published the areas of expertise of the persons that appear on its lists of arbitrators (ie international commercial matters, financial matters, corporate affairs and so on) and has regulated the arbitrator's fees and costs. Local and foreign counsel should seriously consider the use of a mediation and/or an arbitration clause in trying to obtain a speedy and cost-effective resolution to contractual disputes in Chile.

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