The ICC has announced a new expedited arbitration procedure which allows for disputes where the amount at stake does not exceed US$2 million to be resolved within 6 months of the initial case management conference. The accelerated procedure provides for the case management conference to be convened within 15 days of the tribunal's receipt of the arbitration file, and does away with the need for Terms of Reference.
Furthermore, the Tribunal has the power to:
- limit the number, length and scope of the written submissions;
- limit or disallow document production requests;
- decide the matter without a hearing, based on documentary evidence alone.
In cases where the expedited procedure applies, the ICC Court may appoint a sole arbitrator notwithstanding any contrary provision of the arbitration agreement.
This procedure will apply automatically to all agreements concluded after 1 March 2017 unless the parties agree to opt out. Parties may opt in to the expedited procedure in all other cases, or they may agree on a different value limit above which the new procedure will not apply.
The accelerated timetable is also accompanied by a c. 20% reduction in the arbitrator's fees. The ICC states that the procedure constitutes "an effective answer to the legitimate concerns of the business community as to the time and costs of the arbitration".
Whilst many arbitration rules are sufficiently flexible to permit the speedy resolution of simpler disputes, the ICC's expedited arbitration procedure is part of a continuing trend for institutions to specify expedited or fast track arbitration proceedings to deal specifically with lower value or simpler disputes. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) offers a fully expedited procedure but only for disputes with a maximum value of $75,000.
The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) provides a procedure similar to the new ICC procedure for disputes up to a value of HK $25m (c.US $3m), but this is on an opt-in or application basis. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) also has its own Expedited Procedure which parties can apply for where the amount in dispute does not exceed SG $5m (c.US $3.5m), upon party agreement or in cases of exceptional emergency.