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ICC introduces new rules

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched new arbitration rules which will come into force on 1 January 2012 and will apply to ICC arbitrations commencing after this date unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

Some of the key changes to the new ICC rules include:

  • improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the ICC arbitration process through improved case management;
  • arrangements for multi-party and multi-contract arbitration; and
  • emergency arbitrator procedures where urgent interim relief is sought by a party.

Improving efficiency and cost effectiveness of ICC arbitration

A compulsory case management conference between the parties and the tribunal at the outset of the proceedings has been introduced by the new ICC rules.  The purpose of such a conference is to focus the parties’ and the tribunal’s minds on establishing an efficient procedure for the progress of proceedings, and, where appropriate, to define the key issues in dispute.  There is no requirement for the case management conference to be held in person, rather it can be held by video-conference or by telephone where appropriate. 

Under the new ICC rules, tribunals are encouraged, in awarding the costs of the arbitration, to take into account the extent to which each party has conducted the arbitration in an expeditious and cost-effective manner. 

In an attempt to enhance the transparency and speed in tribunals’ rendering of awards, the new ICC rules require tribunals to inform the parties and the ICC, at the close of proceedings, of the date when they expect to submit their award to the ICC for scrutiny.  It is intended that this will reduce the delays in tribunals delivering awards as they are expected to endeavour to meet the timing they commit to.

New arrangements for multi-party and multi-contract arbitration

The new ICC rules introduce a number of measures to facilitate multi-party and multi-contract arbitral proceedings, an area which has traditionally been problematic due to the consensual basis of international arbitration.

Where the parties agree, the new ICC rules permit consolidation of several related arbitrations.  Further, joinder of parties to an arbitration is permitted in certain circumstances.  There are also new provisions which permit a tribunal in a single proceeding to determine claims arising out of a number of contracts and a number of arbitration agreements. 

Introduction of emergency arbitrator procedures where urgent interim relief is sought by a party

In order to address the increasingly frequent desire by parties to seek urgent relief in respect of disputes subject to arbitration, parties are now able to seek “urgent interim or conservatory measures” from an emergency arbitrator in the period prior to the constitution of the tribunal.  Such a service comes at a price, starting at US$40,000.  This provision gives parties seeking such relief an alternative to applying to a national court.    

The new ICC Rules can be accessed here