The International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) has updated its International Dispute Resolution Procedures, including its Arbitration and Mediation Rules, effective June 1, 2014. The updates—the first undertaken by the ICDR since 1996—are intended to improve efficiency in arbitration and mediation, codify long-standing ICDR practices, and introduce new provisions.

To improve efficiency, the revised rules introduce an option for mediation as well as expedited procedures that apply when no claim exceeds $250,000. The expedited procedures call for the appointment of a sole arbitrator.

The revised rules also attempt to improve efficiency by expressly eliminating processes common in U.S. litigation. Specifically, the rules state that depositions, interrogatories, and requests to admit are generally inappropriate as mechanisms to obtain information in arbitration. The rules also mandate that the tribunal manage the information exchange between the parties with a view towards maintaining efficiency and economy.

Finally, the rules require prospective arbitrators to sign a Notice of Appointment affirming their ability to serve independently and impartially, and now, their ability to serve promptly in the case. The rules also require an award to be issued within 60 days of the close of the hearing.

The revisions are obviously an attempt to address what has become a criticism of international arbitration: that it has become no more efficient than litigation in U.S. courts. Many U.S. businesses, who select arbitration because of the potential for a more efficient process, will welcome the change if that goal can be achieved. The ICDR appears to be the first to implement rule changes to explicitly limit discovery in international arbitration. If those rule changes are enforced by tribunals and the process is made more efficient as a result, it is expected that other arbitral institutions will follow suit.