Argentina: ICC New Arbitration Rules Enter Into Force

This revision of the ICC Rules – last reformed in 2012 – is yet another measure taken by the ICC Court since early 2016, in their effort to make arbitration processes more transparent and efficient. These measures include the ICC Court's decision to publish the names and nationality of the arbitrators appointed in ICC arbitrations on its website and the application of a new scheme to reduce the fees of arbitral tribunals that fail to submit a draft award to the Court within the required timeframe.

The new ICC Rules will apply to arbitrations commenced on or after March 1 2017, irrespective of the arbitration agreement's date of conclusion, except for the new Expedited Procedure rules that will only apply to arbitration proceedings based on arbitration agreements concluded after March 1 2017.

Alongside the entry into force of the new Rules, the ICC has also released a revised version of its Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals, which contains detailed guidance on the conduct of their ICC cases and the application of the new Rules, including the Expedited Procedure.

The new Expedited Procedure

The most important amendment in the new ICC Rules is the introduction of the Expedited Procedure Provisions in Article 30 and the new Appendix VI.

With this update, the ICC follows the path of other leading arbitration institutions that have also adopted fast track rules in response to the demand for faster and more efficient arbitrations, such as the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution (SCAI) or the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC).

The Expedited Procedure will automatically apply if:

  1. The arbitration agreement was concluded on or after March 1 2017.
  2. The amount in dispute – including all quantified claims, counterclaims and cross-claims – does not exceed USD 2,000,000.
  3. The parties have not opted out of the Expedited Procedure rules in their arbitration agreement or at any time thereafter.

The Expedited Procedure is also effective if the parties have agreed to opt in, irrespective of the date of conclusion of the arbitration agreement or the amount in dispute.

Contrarily, the Expedited Procedure will not be available if the above-described conditions are not met or if the Court, upon the request of a party before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or on its own motion, determines that it is inappropriate under the circumstances to apply the Expedited Procedure provisions.

The key features of this new procedure will be:

  • The Court will be able to appoint a sole arbitrator, even when the arbitration agreement stipulates that more than one arbitrator should be appointed. The sole arbitrator must be appointed within an expedited timeframe.
  • No Terms of Reference – one of the traditional hallmarks of ICC arbitration – need to be established.
  • Once the sole arbitrator has been appointed, the parties may no longer introduce new claims unless expressly authorized. Among other aspects, the arbitral tribunal must consider the impact that the new claim may have on the arbitration costs.
  • The procedural time-limits are shortened. The arbitral tribunal must render its award within six months of the case management conference, which in turn must be held within 15 days of the tribunal receiving the file. If the need arises, the Court may extend these time limits upon a reasoned request by the arbitral tribunal or upon its own motion.
  • The arbitral tribunal is empowered to exclude the production of documents in the arbitration. Furthermore it may limit the number and length of the parties' submissions, fact witness statements and expert reports. Additionally, the arbitral tribunal may decide the dispute solely on the basis of documents, without conducting oral hearings.
  • Should a hearing take place, arbitral tribunal may conduct the hearing by videoconference, telephone, or similar means of communication.

Lastly the new ICC Rules introduces a reduced fee scale for Expedited Procedures, which is expected to lower arbitration costs in comparison with non-expedited cases.

Further amendments of the new Rules

The new ICC Rules that came into effect also bring important modifications for proceedings that do not fall under the Expedited Procedure rules.

The most significant change is that from March 1, 2017 the Court will be able to provide reasons for many of its most important decisions without requiring permission from all the parties, including those regarding the appointment of arbitrators, the tribunal's jurisdiction and the consolidation of proceedings.

Further changes to the new ICC Rules also include reducing the time limit for agreeing Terms of Reference to 30 days from when the Tribunal receives the case file, as opposed to two months provided in the previous version of the Rules.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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