The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced the revision of its rules of arbitration. The new, revised 2021 ICC Rules reflect a shift toward greater modernisation, efficiency, integrity, and enforceability.

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The changes, which apply to all cases registered with the ICC on or after 1 January 2021, are partially influenced by the impact of COVID-19 and the necessary technological adaptations that the Court has been forced to undergo. This shift is now codified in the revised Article 26(1), which empowers a tribunal to decide whether a hearing should be conducted in person, or remotely by video conference or telephone, and in the revised Article 3(1), which removes the requirement of paper filing and replaces it with the presumption of electronic transmission.

Of note to Qatari companies is that all ICC arbitration agreements entered into on or after 1 January 2021 will presume to include an agreement to the ICC Expedited Procedure Rules for all disputes valued at USD3 million or less. This will capture more cases than the previous threshold of USD2 million. Studies on the use of the ICC Expedited Procedure Rules since their inception four years ago show parties and tribunals find them valuable to cost-effectively resolve disputes.

Other notable changes to the ICC Rules include:

  • Mandatory disclosure of third-party funders with an economic interest in the outcome of the case to the tribunal, other parties, and the ICC Secretariat;
  • Expanded provisions regarding joinder of parties and consolidation of proceedings to efficiently deal with complex disputes;
  • Empowerment of the Court to, in exceptional circumstances, reject unfair or unequal agreements regarding tribunal constitution and to itself appoint each member of the tribunal to protect the validity of a future award; and
  • Specific provisions for investment treaty arbitrations aimed at ensuring arbitral independence and excluding treaty-based arbitrations from the ICC emergency arbitration provisions.

The 2021 ICC Rules entered into force on 1 January 2021 and apply regardless of the date of the underlying arbitration agreement. All cases registered between 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2021 will continue to be subject to the 2017 ICC Rules.

ICC Qatar in collaboration with Crowell & Moring presented these new ICC Rules during a webinar that was held in November 2020.

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