To all our friends with international projects, partners, or contracts, please take note of some significant changes to one of the potential sets of procedures and rules that may govern or apply to your international dispute. The International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) recently amended its Dispute Resolution Procedures (including its Arbitration and Mediation Rules), which became effective on March 1, 2021.

The general thrust of these changes was to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The updated rules also seek to address important current issues and dynamics, including, most notably, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These amendments are the result of a year-long effort by the various arbitration experts around the world who make up the drafting committee.

In terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the updated rules encourage the consideration of early disposition of issues, emphasize and incorporate the use of mediation, raise the ceiling amount for expedited arbitration procedures, and expand the applicability of these procedures. After almost a year of navigating international disputes in a world with very little travel or face-to-face interaction, the ICDR drafters worked to address the ever-changing dynamics of the COVID-19 world, including the increasing role of video and virtual communications. Finally, there are other issues and developments addressed by the amendments, including the rise of third-party funding; the duty to discuss cybersecurity, privacy and data protection; transparency regarding ICDR decision-making; joinder and consolidation; arbitral jurisdiction and arbitrability; and the use and role of tribunal secretaries.

In addition to amending the Arbitration Rules, the ICDR also amended its Mediation Rules, including changes to address the procedure for the appointment of a mediator, guidance regarding the mediation process, and potential enforcement of settlements under the Singapore Convention on mediated settlements.

If you do business in the international arena or with businesses around the globe, take note of these key changes as they may very well alter the way international disputes are adjudicated. And, as always, remember the importance of the primary set of rules that govern your project or dispute: the contract.