Arbitration is too costly and takes far too much time... This is the increasingly uniform view from the users of the popular alternative forum for resolving disputes.
There is nothing particularly novel in this statement; the 2015 Queen Mary University of London International Arbitration Survey: Improvements and Innovations in International Arbitration found that, of the hundreds of respondents, "Cost" was seen as the worst feature of arbitration, followed closely by "lack of effective sanctions during the arbitral process", "lack of insight into arbitrators' efficiency" and, importantly, "lack of speed".
These issues can be particularly acute in situations where either the amount in dispute is relatively small and/or the issues to be determined are relatively straightforward (for example, a claim for an unpaid debt for which the debtor has no defence). Calls for more streamlined procedures have not gone unnoticed by arbitral institutions. The American Arbitration Association, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre have already instituted measures designed to provide for a more time and cost efficient arbitral experience.
In response to these concerns (and perhaps the changes already made by other institutions), one of the world's most utilised arbitral institutions, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has recently announced amendments to its most recent Arbitration Rules to incorporate a new Expedited Procedure applicable to claims not in excess of USD 2 million.
The Expedited Procedure will only apply to disputes under arbitration agreements concluded post-1 March 2017. In summary, the main changes with respect to the Expedited Procedure are as follows:
The ICC Court may appoint a sole-arbitrator, irrespective of what the parties' arbitration agreement provides. That appointment will be made on an expedited basis; The Expedited Procedure will dispense with the requirement for Terms of Reference to be agreed (in the authors' respective views, an often unnecessarily costly stage of an arbitration under the ICC Rules); The Case Management Conference (CMC) will take place 15 days of the transmission of the case file to the sole arbitrator, whom must then render a final award within six months of the conclusion of the CMC. This period may only be extended by the ICC Court in "limited and justified" circumstances and upon a "reasoned request" from the sole arbitrator; No party may make a new...