Alongside the entry into force of the new Rules, ICC has released the latest version of its Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals. The new Note was approved by the Bureau of the Court on Wednesday, 22 February 2017 and contains many important new features.
The new Note contains detailed guidance on the new Expedited Rules, and also establishes the principle that the Court may now provide reasons for its decisions upon the request of any party, rather than upon agreement of all parties as was previously the case.
The President of the Court, Alexis Mourre, says that “The Note is an important step towards the implementation of our new policies to foster the efficiency and the transparency of ICC arbitrations. The possibility for any party to seek the provision of reasons for a wide range of Court decisions is a landmark change as well as a message of accountability to our users.”
“As to the introduction of our Expedited Rules, effectively providing for an arbitration to be concluded in six months – either on an opt-out basis for arbitrations which value in dispute is less than US$2 million, or on an opt-in basis for all other cases – with, if the sole arbitrator so decides, no hearing and no document production process, it is an entirely new offer to the business community and an effective answer to the legitimate concerns of the business community as to the time and costs of the arbitration.”
Mr Mourre added: “It is significant that the Note also introduces for the Expedited arbitrations financial consequences for arbitral tribunals in case of delays in submitting their draft awards to the Court, and for the Court in case of delays in the reduced time-limit that is established for the scrutiny of awards under the Expedited Rules.”
The Note also establishes important new provisions concerning the conduct of all participants in arbitral proceedings.
The Note directs the arbitrators, parties and their representatives to abide “by the highest standards of integrity and honesty, and to conduct themselves with honor, courtesy and professionalism” – and encourages all other participants in the proceedings, such as witnesses and experts, to do the same. The Note, to that effect, encourages parties and arbitral tribunals to draw inspiration from, or where appropriate to adopt, the IBA Guidelines on Party Representation in International Arbitration. The Note prohibits ex parte contacts between an arbitrator and a party, save in limited circumstances in the context of the appointment of the arbitrators and constitution of the arbitral tribunals.
Mr Mourre said: “By introducing ethical principles and endorsing the IBA Guidelines on Party Representation, the Court aims at ensuring that the highest standards of honesty and professional conduct are abided with by all participants in the arbitration. It is of fundamental importance that the legitimacy of the arbitral process be protected at all times, and the ICC initiative establishes with clarity the parties’ duty to cooperate in good faith and to behave with integrity for the sake of the fair and efficient resolution of disputes submitted to our rules.”
The Note also introduces a wide range of additional services that are now available to the parties in ICC cases, such as the recommendation of administrative secretaries, services for the organization of the hearing, the organization of transparent proceedings, or the use of sealed offers.
Finally, the new Note incorporates previously existing separate notes, such as the note on Emergency Arbitration and the note on the Correction and Interpretation of awards, so that users can now refer to one single clear and comprehensive document to obtain guidance on all aspects of the conduct of their ICC cases.