The ICC's 2017 Arbitration Rules entered into force
on 1 March 2017 and apply to arbitrations commenced on or after
The new rules are designed to foster the efficiency and
transparency of ICC arbitrations, in a bid to answer parties'
concerns about the cost and time involved in arbitration
New Expedited Procedure
To that end, the key change in the 2017 rules is the
introduction of an Expedited Procedure to compete with those
offered by other arbitral institutions, which will allow for the
resolution of arbitrations within a compressed timescale
(approximately six months).
The Expedited Procedure will automatically apply to arbitrations
where the arbitration agreement was entered into on or after 1
March 2017, and where the sum in dispute is less than $2 million,
unless the ICC Court deems the procedure inappropriate in the
Parties can also opt-in to the Expedited Procedure where the sum
in dispute exceeds $2 million, or the arbitration agreement was
concluded before the 2017 rules came into force.
Parties entering into arbitration agreements after 1 March 2017,
who do not want the Expedited Procedure to apply, will need
expressly to exclude the procedure in their arbitration agreement.
The ICC has provided
suggested wording for arbitration clauses where parties wish to
opt-in or opt-out.
Features of the Expedited Procedure are:
The ICC Court may appoint a sole arbitrator, notwithstanding
any contrary provision of the arbitration agreement between the
parties. In the absence of a nomination by the parties within a
specified timescale, the ICC Court will appoint an arbitrator in
'as short a time as possible'
Once the tribunal has been constituted, the parties may not
generally bring any new claims
The tribunal is not required to produce terms of reference, but
will arrange for a case management conference to take place within
15 days of the file being transmitted to it
Although a tribunal always has discretion to adopt such
procedural measures as it considers appropriate to manage the case
efficiently, the Expedited Procedure positively encourages such
restricting document production
limiting the length, number or scope of written submissions and
written fact and expert witness evidence;
holding a hearing by telephone or videoconference; or
deciding the dispute solely on the basis of documents, with no
oral hearing or examination of witnesses or experts
The Award must be rendered within six months of the first case
Of course, the overall cost of an arbitration under the
Expedited Procedure should be much lower than the standard
procedure, not only because the arbitrator's fees will be
reduced but the legal fees in such cases should also be
significantly lower. In addition to the ICC's fee structure
(where fees are referable to the amount in dispute) this should
make ICC rules more attractive for smaller disputes than
Other changes in the 2017 Rules include:
Expedited production of terms of reference (in cases outside
the Expedited Procedure) by tribunals - down from 60 days to 30.
This should accelerate the initial phase of arbitration.
The ICC Court may now communicate its reasoned decisions for
the appointment, confirmation, challenge or replacement of
arbitrators at the request of a party, where previously these were
only available at the request of all parties.
Alongside the 2017 rules, the ICC has published a revised
Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of
Arbitration. The note provides a further gloss on the 2017
Rules, consolidates separate existing notes, and establishes new
ethical provisions on conduct, encouraging parties, witnesses and
experts to abide "by the highest standards of integrity and
honesty, and to conduct themselves with honour, courtesy and
Taken together, the changes in the 2017 rules go some way to
addressing often voiced criticisms of the arbitral process as being
too costly and slow. The Expedited Procedure will be particularly
welcomed by parties involved in smaller disputes where ICC Rules
may previously have been considered too expensive or unwieldy for
the sums in dispute.
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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The UK Supreme Court last week issued the latest decision in a long-running attempt to enforce a US$150 million Nigerian arbitration award (IPCO (Nigeria) Limited v. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation...
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