Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ICC Revised Arbitration Rules Go Into Effect on March 1st; Changes Include Expedited Procedures for Disputes Under US$2 million

Intl Court of ArbitrationThe International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Court) announced important amendments to the ICC Rules of Arbitration (the "Rules") to increase the efficiency and transparency of ICC arbitrations.

The revised rules enter into effect on March 1, 2017. They provide that expedited procedure rules will automatically apply to all arbitrations with amounts in dispute below US$2 million and to cases involving higher amounts on an opt-in basis.

Features of the Expedited Rules

Under the Expedited Procedure Rules, the ICC Court will normally appoint a sole arbitrator, irrespective of any contrary term of the arbitration agreement. Awards must be made in six months from the case management conference. Extensions will be granted only in limited and justified circumstances.

Under the Rules there will be no Terms of Reference and the tribunal will have discretion to decide the case on documents only, with no hearing, no requests to produce documents and no examination of witnesses. The quality control on awards -- performed by the ICC Court and its Secretariat through the scrutiny of the award -- will however be maintained at its long-established highest level. Finally, a scale providing for significantly reduced fees will apply under the Expedited Procedure Rules.

ICC Court President Alexis Mourre said: "This is an entirely new offer to our users. Disputes will now be resolved on a very expeditious and cost-effective manner, providing an effective answer to the legitimate concerns of the business community as to time and costs. These new rules will not only be effective for disputes of a limited value, but also for larger cases if the parties so agree."

Streamlining procedure

Reflecting a string of new measures and amendments to ICC practice notes introduced in 2016, the ICC also introduced a number of other changes to its Rules. They reduce from two months to one month the time-limit to establish Terms of Reference in order to streamline the initial phases of the proceedings.

The Rules have also been amended to allow the ICC Court to provide reasons for its decisions made on challenges, as well as for other decisions, such as prima facie jurisdictional decisions and consolidations, without having to seek consent of all parties, as under the previous Rules. Mr Mourre said: "Any party will now be in a position to ask the ICC Court to provide reasons for its decisions. This is an increased measure of transparency and accountability to our users.

The amendments to the Rules were proposed in May 2016 by the ICC Court and the Governing Body for Dispute Resolution Services. They were presented to the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR at its Washington session in September 2016 and finally approved by the ICC Executive Board in Bangkok in October 2016.

(Adapted from an ICC Press Release).


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