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International Centre for Dispute Resolution continues to innovate with updated arbitration rules, says expert

New International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) arbitration rules are now in force, as the arbitral body joins a number of other major international arbitration institutions which have updated their rules to reflect current best practice and standards, an expert has said.

Many of the amendments set out in the first substantial overhaul of the ICDR rules since their introduction in 1991 (40-page / 818KB PDF) are "similar in spirit" to the amendments recently made or currently being made to the other institutional rules, said Daniel Wilmot, an international arbitration expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. However, they also include some concepts "unique to the institution", he said.

"The ICDR regards itself as somewhat of an innovator amongst the major arbitral institutions and many of the new rules reflect this fact," he said. "Concepts unique to the institution within its new rules include dedicated provisions for an expedited arbitration procedure where each claim or counterclaim does not exceed $250,000 and also a provision dealing with the requesting, searching and production of electronic documents and tribunal involvement in this process."

"In line with the amendments to the LCIA rules which are currently being discussed, the new ICDR rules incorporate standards for the conduct of party representations. However these standards, which will take the form of 'guidelines', have not yet been published by the ICDR and so this amendment is a placeholder at present,"  Wilmot said.

The ICDR is the international part of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), and handled  1,165 cases in 2013. The body said that its updated International Dispute Resolution Procedures would increase process efficiency and codify certain well-established administrative practices, as well as introducing a number of new provisions.

The revised rules formalise the ICDR's long-standing practice of appointing arbitrators from free-to-access lists of specialists, which have been selected for inclusion by independent review committees, as the default method of appointing arbitrators. Parties may still appoint the arbitrator of their choice by agreement. The new rules also incorporate a mediation option, intended to give parties more flexibility when choosing the best way to resolve their dispute.

"The revised rules maintain what is distinctive about ICDR arbitration and further distinguish it from other institutional options," said AAA senior vice-president Richard Naimark.

"For example, parties have used the ICDR list method – which was not specifically mentioned in the previous rules – for appointing arbitrators for years because they felt it was the best way to resolve tension between respect for party input and  potential problems with the party appointment process. The enhanced rules now explain the list method and thereby provide users with transparency of a long-standing administrative practice," he said.

With its new rules, the ICDR has also become the first arbitral institution to incorporate an expedited arbitration procedure into its rules. Its procedures allow for the appointment of a sole arbitrator, and will apply in any case where no disclosed claims or counterclaims exceed $250,000 in value, exclusive of interest and arbitration costs.

Other significant additions to the ICDR rules in the new version include a requirement that prospective arbitrators sign a Notice of Appointment (NOA) confirming their ability to serve promptly in the case, as well as the usual disclosures of independence and impartiality. The changes  also incorporate streamlined exchange of information procedures; expressly exclude US litigation procedures such as depositions from the process; and introduce a requirement that the final award be made no later than 60 days from the date of close of the hearing, unless otherwise agreed by the parties or specified by law.

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