The expedited procedure of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in force since 1 March 2017, and applicable by default to cases where the amount in dispute is less than two million dollars (approximately 1.84 million euros), is intended to offer an efficient and swift means of dispute resolution, while lowering the cost of arbitration.
The new procedure is particularly well suited to cases where the amounts at stake do not justify the expenses associated with lengthy proceedings or when the parties wish to obtain a final, enforceable decision as quickly as possible.
Founded in 1923, the ICC is a leading arbitral institute, and its rules of arbitration are amongst the most widely used worldwide.
Known for its high quality and efficiency, ICC arbitration also allows parties to benefit from the provisions of the New York Convention of 1958, which greatly facilitate the cross-border recognition and enforcement of international arbitral awards.
However, when the amounts at stake are modest, the parties to the dispute may be dissuaded from relying on the ICC rules due to the substantial costs such arbitration entails, including the arbitrator's fees.
The new procedure allows awards to be rendered more quickly and lowers the cost of ICC arbitration, thereby rendering it more attractive for modest disputes which currently represent close to one third of the cases submitted to arbitration under the ICC rules.
When the amount in dispute exceeds two million dollars, the parties may nonetheless agree to apply the expedited procedure ("opt in"). Conversely, if the amount in dispute is less than two million dollars, the parties may decide that they wish to have recourse to the regular - as opposed to the expedited - procedure if they believe the matter requires particular diligence ("opt out").
For disputes subject to the expedited procedure, the case is submitted for resolution to a sole arbitrator, and the procedural burden is substantially lightened (no terms of reference, restriction on making new claims once the arbitral tribunal has been constituted, only strictly necessary investigative measures, preference for electronic means of communication), which makes it possible to require the arbitral tribunal to render a final award, which may not be appealed, within six months and fifteen days from the application.
The new rules also authorise the arbitral tribunal to decide the dispute solely on the basis of the documents submitted by the parties, with no hearing and no examination of witnesses or experts.
Finally, under the expedited procedure, the cost of arbitration is lower, as the applicable scale of administrative expenses and arbitrator's fees provides for fees which are 20% lower compared to the regular procedure.