Expedited Procedure under the ICC Arbitration Rules

During the virtual launch of the Centenary of the International Court of Arbitration on January 19, 2023, arbitration practitioners and users were reminded of the mission of the ICC Court’s mission “to provide access to justice and the rule of law to everyone, every day, everywhere.

The goal of the mission statement may seem ambitious, considering that arbitration is commonly viewed as an expensive method to resolve disputes. One of the main considerations is whether arbitration is worth the time and commitment, especially for parties entering contracts in the MENA region, where the amounts in dispute are often not large, and the arbitral costs and legal fees may become considerable, or even prohibitive.

To address this issue, the ICC introduced the expedited procedure in March 2017, to allow a quicker and more cost-effective solution for parties with arbitration clauses in their agreements and where the amount in dispute may not warrant a full, lengthy, and expensive arbitration process.

An expedited procedure differs from the traditional arbitration process by aiming to reach a resolution in a shorter time frame, usually within a few months, by simplifying the procedure, reducing document production, and limiting or eliminating witness and expert testimony, and oral hearings.

The requirements for utilisation of the expedited procedure under ICC Arbitration Rules 2017 are as follows:

1. the arbitration agreement was concluded before 1 March 2017 (when the expedited procedure rule came into force); and

2. the amount in dispute (the sum of all claims, counterclaims and set-offs) does not exceed USD 2,000,000; and

3. the parties have not expressly opted out of the application of the expedited procedure rules (i.e. if criteria 1 and 2 above are met, they apply by default); or

4. the parties agree to the application of the expedited procedure rules, in which case the date of the arbitration agreement and the maximum amount of dispute requirements would be superseded).

The expedited procedure under the ICC Rules 2017 has the following hallmarks:

1. the ICC Court has the power to appoint a sole arbitrator notwithstanding any provision of the arbitration agreement;

2. the parties cannot make new claims after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal unless authorised to do so by the tribunal;

3. there is no need to agree on the terms of reference, and the case management conference (the “CMC”) shall be convened within 15 days of receipt of the case file by the arbitral tribunal;

4. the arbitral tribunal may, after consultation with the parties, simplify the arbitration procedure, e.g., by excluding document production or placing limits upon the written submissions and witness and expert evidence;

5. the arbitral tribunal, after consultation with the parties, may dispense with the main hearing and decide the dispute solely on the basis of the documentary evidence and written submissions;

6. the arbitral tribunal must render its final award within 6 months from the CMC date (which means that the main hearing, if not discarded at all, will likely take place within 5 months of the CMC date);

7. arbitration fees (fees of the arbitrator and the ICC) are reduced; and

8. the awards may be scrutinised by a single-member committee (as opposed to a three-member committee).

Effective 1 January 2021, new ICC Arbitration Rules 2021 came into force and expanded the scope of expedited procedures by increasing the threshold of the maximum amount in dispute to USD 3,000,000. The new threshold applies only to arbitration agreements concluded on or after 1 January 2021, while the threshold for previous agreements remains at USD 2,000,000. This revision in the ICC Rules 2021 aims to make the expedited procedure more accessible to a wider range of parties and reflects the growing demand for more cost-efficient arbitration globally, especially in the MENA region.

In the 100 years since its inception, the ICC has played a key role in shaping the evolution of arbitration, and its efforts must be recognised and applauded. As the ICC moves forward into the next century, it is expected to lead the way, in line with its Centenary Declaration on Dispute Prevention and Resolution, by making arbitration and alternative dispute resolution more widely accessible throughout the world.

The authors of this article are Sergejs Dilevka (Senior Counsel) and Dimitriy Mednikov (Associate).

Sergejs is a Senior Counsel at the Dispute Resolution department of the firm’s Dubai office. Sergejs is a dual-qualified lawyer. He is admitted as a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England & Wales and admitted to practice as an Attorney and Counsellor of Law in the courts of the State of New York. Sergejs has over 14 years of experience in advising and representing multinational companies and high-net-worth individuals in a wide range of complex institutional (ICC, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA, LMAA, SCC, SCIA, DIAC, GCC CAC) and ad hoc international and domestic arbitration proceedings, and litigation proceedings at DIFC Courts.

Dimitriy is an Associate at the Dispute Resolution department of the firm’s Dubai office. His practice focuses on complex commercial arbitration, particularly in the IT, engineering and construction, and M&A sectors. Dimitriy has substantial experience in advising and acting for high-net-worth individuals in cross-border disputes, criminal proceedings involving allegations of money laundering, and the European Court of Human Rights.

Sergejs and Dimitriy will be attending the 11th ICC MENA Conference on International Arbitration and the ICC Institute Advance Level Training on Complex Arbitrations, on 15-16 February 2023 at the ADGM, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

For information on ICC Arbitrations, please get in touch directly with Sergejs Dilevka and Dimitriy Mednikov. 

Sergejs Dilevka
Senior Counsel
Dimitriy Mednikov