On March 1, 2017, new changes to the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) Rules of Arbitration will take effect that are designed to make the process more transparent, efficient, and cost-effective—especially with regard to disputes of less than USD $2 million. There are three main changes:

  1. The ICC Court may now, but it not required to, issue reasoned opinions on decisions concerning procedural issues. Anticipating that the Court will issue such reasoned opinions, this change should increase transparency and confidence in arbitrations subject to the ICC Rules.
  2. Article 23 is amended to require that the arbitral tribunal transmit to the parties the signed Terms of Reference within one month, cutting the previous time in half. The parties can of course agree to a longer period; nonetheless, the amended Article 23 should encourage the tribunal and the parties to act as quickly as possible.
  3. The amendments introduce new expedited rules for disputes of less than USD $2 million. If parties do not want these expedited rules to apply, they must affirmatively opt out. Highlights of the new expedited rules include:
    • The expedited appointment of a sole arbitrator regardless of the terms of the arbitration agreement;
    • No need for Terms of Reference;
    • No new claims once the tribunal is constituted unless the tribunal authorizes it;
    • No document production;
    • The possibility of limiting written submissions;
    • The possibility of no hearing (i.e., an award on the basis of the written proceedings);
    • A six-month time limit to issue the final award; and
    • Reduced fees for the expedited procedures.

Finally, it should be noted that unless the parties otherwise agree, the new expedited rules do not apply to arbitration agreements concluded before March 1, 2017.