Recent Development

The Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ("ICC Court") has been exploring new ways to reduce time and cost in arbitration proceedings, especially with respect to small amounted claims. ICC Court's new Arbitration Rules ("ICC Rules") were drafted with this purpose and entered into force on March 1, 2017. This change is in line with the very same structure adopted by the Istanbul Arbitration Centre ("ISTAC") in its arbitration rules released on October 26, 2015.

What are the major changes to the ICC Rules?

The ICC Rules focus on refining certain issues in order to bring more efficiency to ICC arbitration proceedings. The most noteworthy change is the introduction of the Expedited Procedure (Article 30 and Annex VI of the ICC Rules).

Expedited Procedure for Disputes in the Amount of USD 2 million or less

The Expedited Procedure Rules will apply to all ICC arbitrations with a dispute amount of USD 2 million or less, provided that the arbitration agreement was concluded after March 1, 2017 and the Expedited Procedure is not specifically excluded under the agreement. The parties are at liberty to opt out of the Expedited Procedure. However, they are also at liberty to opt-in for cases with claims greater than USD 2 million.

Pursuant to the Expedited Procedure Rules:

  • The ICC Court has discretion to appoint a sole arbitrator, even where the arbitration agreement provides for a three-member tribunal.
  • The arbitral tribunal or the sole arbitrator must render its final award within six months from the date of the case management conference which is convened within 15 days starting from the date on which the file was transmitted to the arbitral tribunal.
  • After the arbitral tribunal has been constituted or the sole arbitrator appointed, no party shall make claims, unless it has been authorized to do so by arbitral tribunal or sole arbitrator.
  • After consulting with the parties, the arbitral tribunal or the sole arbitrator may adopt procedural measures it considers appropriate. For example, it may limit the parties’ document production, witness evidence, and written submissions.
  • The arbitral tribunal or the sole arbitrator may, after consulting the parties, decide the dispute solely based on the documents submitted by the parties, with no hearing and no examination of witnesses or experts.

Other Significant Amendments

In order to increase transparency and efficiency, the ICC Court also introduced other amendments. In addition to the introduction of the Expedited Procedure, the following are the most significant changes:

  • Previously, the ICC Court was unauthorized to communicate to the parties the reasons for decisions regarding the appointment, confirmation, challenge, or replacement of an arbitrator. Thanks to the revised ICC Rules, the ICC Court may now communicate the reasons for its decisions on appointment, confirmation, challenge or replacement of arbitrators.
  • Under the previous rules, arbitral tribunals were required to draw up a terms of reference and transmit such to the ICC Court within 60 days following receipt of the file. Pursuant to the revised ICC Rules, the arbitral tribunal only has 30 days.
  • The ICC Court has also updated the Schedule of Fees; the new fees are retroactively applicable beginning from January 1, 2017.

Conclusion

The new ICC Rules aim to achieve greater efficiency in international arbitration proceedings by increasing the ICC Court's power. The most important change, the introduction of the Expedited Procedure, is not suitable for every dispute, as it offers limited possibilities within a limited time frame. However, parties are free to determine when and how to apply the Expedited Procedure. As such, parties should be meticulous in drafting arbitration agreements and consider the above mentioned change in the ICC Rules when doing so.