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Arbitration under the new Expedited Procedure Rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

On 1 March 2017, the revised Arbitration Rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) became effective. One of the major changes implemented in the new rules are the Expedited Procedure Rules, which automatically apply to all new ICC arbitrations with an amount in dispute of up to USD 2,000,000, unless the parties have agreed to opt out of the expedited procedure provisions.

Under the new arbitration rules and the USD 2,000,000 threshold, approximately one third of all new ICC arbitrations may be subject to the expedited procedure provisions in the future. According to an updated version of the ICC's note to parties and arbitral tribunals on the conduct of arbitrations under the ICC Rules published on 1 March 2017, the expedited procedure rules, however, do not apply in cases of declaratory or non-monetary claims for which the value cannot be estimated, unless such claims merely support a monetary claim, or unless they do not add significantly to the complexity of the dispute.

The introduction of expedited or fast-track arbitration proceedings has been a recent trend in arbitration. Other institutions such as the SCC, DIS, HKIAC or ICDR also provide for fast-track proceedings. Like regular arbitrations, fast-track proceedings also result in a final and binding arbitral award. Usually the expedited rules contain strict time limits for the conduct of the arbitration and also for the rendering of an arbitral award. They usually also stipulate as default the decision of the dispute by a sole arbitrator (as opposed to a three member arbitral tribunal). In addition, the efficiency of the proceedings may be supported by restricting the length and number of briefs and foregoing an oral hearing. Some fast-track rules even exclude the possibility of a counter-claim or exclude the possibility to declare a set-off. Fast-track arbitration therefore also carries potential risks, in particular for respondents. Parties are therefore well-advised to consider adjusting fast-track rules (in accordance with the principle of party autonomy) or even opting-out of them in accordance with the parties' individual needs and interests. When it comes to ICC arbitration under the new ICC Arbitration Rules, parties and counsel are also well-advised to consult the new ICC note, which contains helpful guidance on the ICC's practices.