Commercial arbitration is constantly trying to improve in order
to meet the needs of its users and to address the challenges of a
The Commission on Arbitration and ADR of the International
Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced on 4 November 2016 a
revision of its Arbitration Rules (the ICC Rules). This revision
will enter into force on 1 March 2017, and the revised rules will
be applicable to all ICC arbitration proceeding commenced after
The modifications to the rules were extensively dis- cussed
within the ICC Commission on Arbitration and among the members of
the ICC Court. While they do not bring fundamental changes, they
contain elements which are intended to increase transparency and
efficiency in ICC arbitration.
Reasoned Decisions on Procedural Issues
Article 11(4) of the ICC Rules is deleted, which so far
prevented the ICC Court from providing reasons for decisions on
challenges, replacement of arbitrators, and in the context of its
prima facie jurisdictional decisions, and consolidations of
arbitrations. This has the effect that the Court can now
communicate the reasons for its decision which so far required the
agreement by all parties. The Court can now do so whenever it
considers it appropriate. The aim of this change is increased
transparency regarding the Court's decisions which is an
important step that should further strengthen confidence in the
integrity of the ICC arbitration process.
Shortening of Time Limits
The second amendment to the rules is a reduction of the time
limit provided by Article 23 for the establishment of the Terms of
Reference from two months to one. The expectation is that this
reduction will effectively shorten the time until an arbitral
tribunal can take up its work. In this context and as indicated by
several practitioners during the establishment of the revision, one
should point out that in many instances this time limit will not be
sufficient, for example due to the unavailability of the
parties' counsel. In that case the arbitral tribunal can ask
for an extension. In reality, this change is primarily an
encouragement to everybody involved in an arbitration to act
expeditiously and efficiently.
Expedited Procedural Rules
Finally, and this is probably the most important change, the
introduction of Expedited Procedural Rules (new Article 30c of the
ICC Rules and Appendix IV) will make sure that cases with a
relatively limited amount in dispute (below USD 2 million) are
administered in a more cost efficient manner both for the parties
and also for the Court. The essential features of these Expedited
Procedural Rules are
the expedited appointment of a sole
arbitrator by the Court, regardless of the arbitration
the requirement to establish Terms of
Reference does not apply;
the possibility to limit the number
and volume of written submissions;
the procedure can be based on
documents only, with no document production phase and no hearing
unless the tribunal decides otherwise;
a mandatory six months time limit to
render the final award; and
the fees for these expedited
procedures are reduced.
In effect, the ICC follows with this revision the path of other
arbitration institutions who have adopted fast track rules.
Unfortunately, this procedure only comes into play if the
arbitration agreement was concluded after the date of entering into
force (unless the parties voluntarily choose it). Moreover, the
parties have the possibility to opt-out, and the Court (upon the
request of a party or on its own motion) can determine that it is
inappropriate in the circumstances of the case.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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