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ICC aims to increase efficiency and transparency of arbitrations with rule changes

The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced amendments to its rules, aiming to increase the efficiency and transparency of its arbitrations.

Expedited procedure rules will now automatically apply to all arbitrations where the amount in dispute is below $2 million, and to other cases on an opt-in basis, the ICC said.

Under expedited procedure rules the Court will normally appoint a sole arbitrator and awards must be made within six months of the case management conference unless there are justified circumstances for an extension.

There will be no terms of reference, and the tribunal will have the discretion to decide the case based only on documents, with no hearing, no requests to produce documents and no examination of witnesses, the ICC said.

The new rules will apply from 1 March 2017, with significantly reduced fees, it said.

ICC president Alexis Mourre said: "This is an entirely new offer to our users. Disputes will now be resolved on a very expeditious and cost-effective manner, providing an effective answer to the legitimate concerns of the business community as to time and costs. These new rules will not only be effective for disputes of a limited value, but also for larger cases if the parties so agree."

Arbitration expert Nicola King of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The new expedited procedure introduced by the ICC will be welcomed by parties and practitioners, as the length and cost of arbitrations can be prohibitive to parties wanting to claim smaller sums. The same quality control will be applied in the arbitration but the new procedure will result in significantly reduced costs for the parties and an expedited award.”

The ICC will also reduce the time limit for establishing terms of reference from two months to one month, to "streamline the initial phases of the proceedings", and will be allowed to provide reasons for its decisions without having to seek the consent of all parties, it said.

"Any party will now be in a position to ask the ICC to provide reasons for its decisions. This is an increased measure of transparency and accountability to our users," said Mourre.

"These new rules complement recent initiatives that the ICC has introduced in the last couple of years," King said.

The ICC said in January that it will now publish the names and nationality of arbitrators sitting on ICC cases on its website, with details of whether the appointment was made by the court or by the parties, and which arbitrator is the tribunal chairperson.

The information will be kept up to date with any changes to the tribunal's composition, the ICC said.

For confidentiality reasons, the case reference number and the names of the parties and their counsel will not be published, it said.

The ICC has also published clear information on the cost consequences of delays in submitting draft arbitration awards. If the draft award is submitted late the court may lower the arbitrators' fees. Fees will be cut by  5-10% for a delay of up to seven months, 10-20% for up to 10 months, and 20% or more for draft awards that are over ten months late, the ICC said.

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