ICC Dispute Resolution in 2021: Our year in review

  • 20 December 2021
ICC Court releases full statistical report for 2017

We’re wrapping up another ground-breaking year in dispute resolution with a look back at our key achievements – from being named the world’s preferred arbitral institution to taking new diversity and inclusion initiatives.

1. Receiving record Arbitration and ADR case filings 

In January, ICC announced record case filings for its arbitration and ADR services, recording a total of 946 new arbitration cases in 2020. Revised ICC Rules of Arbitration entered into force on 1 January 2021, along with updates to the ICC Court’s Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration. A full statistical report was published in August. Read more.

2. Making history on the road to the ICC Court Centenary 

Claudia Salomon became the first female President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration as of 1 July. Her election won an award for best development in international arbitration from the Global Arbitration Review. Under Ms Salomon’s leadership, the ICC Court began its 2021-2024 mandate with 195 members from 121 countries, the most diverse Court in history, with more women than men. In a keynote address in November, Ms Salomon underscored the need to engage parties more deeply in the arbitral process and ensure that every aspect of an international arbitration has a client mindset.

3. Being recognised as the world’s most preferred arbitral institution 

ICC’s reputation as the world’s most preferred arbitral institution was upheld in 2021 in a major survey of arbitration professionals and users worldwide reflecting ICC’s standing as a truly global and independent institution with close to 100 years of experience in resolving commercial disputes, and a contemporary purpose to leverage dispute resolution to secure more widespread peace and prosperity. Read more.

4. Driving excellence in world business law 

Eduardo Silva Romero became Chair of the ICC Institute of World Business Law in January, presenting an ambitious agenda on research, training and education. Under Mr Silva Romero’s leadership, the Institute announced seven new additions to its Council in May. Melida Hodgson, who alongside Alan Thambiayah became Vice-Chair of the ICC Institute, discussed her connections to the global think tank and how she aimed to support its work to drive world business law excellence. In November, Brooke Marshall was awarded the 2021 ICC Institute Prize for her thesis on “Asymmetric jurisdiction clauses”. Read more.

5. Delivering thought leadership in international arbitration and ADR

Melanie van Leeuwen became Chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR  in November. The Commission published a ground-breaking report on the accuracy of fact witness memory in international arbitration, analysing the psychological science of human memory, and offering arbitrators and counsel guidance to enhance the probative value of fact witness evidence. The Commission also approved a revised Report on the use of information technology in international arbitration, which is to be launched in February 2022.

6. Reaching arbitration users in Asia… 

The addition of three new members to ICC’s Dispute Resolution Governing Body in March aims to make ICC’s leading dispute resolution services more accessible to users in Asia while supporting objectives to digitise services in line with user needs. The new members named were Chief Justice of Singapore Sundaresh Menon, Legal Director of Netflix Korea Liz (Kyo-Hwa) Chung and Technology Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Richard Susskind OBE.

In September, ICC announced three new regional directors for the business development of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution in North Asia, South Asia and the Middle East: Donna Huang, Tejus Chauhan and Dania Fahs. Read more.

…and in Africa

Diamana Diawara was appointed regional director for Africa with a mission to build capacity and enhance access to ICC’s dispute resolution know-how, working in tandem with ICC’s Africa Action Network and the ICC Africa Commission, which announced a new leadership lineup in September. Read more.

…and Russia 

ICC was granted the status of Permanent Arbitration Institution by the Council for the Development of the Arbitration Process of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in May. As a Permanent Arbitral Institution, the ICC Court can administer Russian-seated international arbitrations, enabling parties to seek enforcement of ICC arbitral awards in Russia. Read more.

…and Iran

In October, ICC became the first arbitral institution to be granted a specific license by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) allowing for the receipt and processing of certain payments in ICC arbitration proceedings implicating Iran. This important milestone supports ICC’s mission to ensure access to justice and to promote the rule of law.

7. Building trust through information… 

In April, ICC announced a partnership with Jus Mundi, the world’s most comprehensive research engine for international law and arbitration, to provide full public access to all publishable ICC arbitral awards and related documents rendered as of 1 January 2019. Read more.

…and trusted dispute resolution mechanisms for everyone, everywhere  

To support the ICC International Centre for ADR in administering ADR cases filed under ICC Expert Rules and ICC Dispute Board Rules, ICC announced new additions to the Centre’s Standing Committee, including Victoria R. Orlowski as its new president. Read more.

8. Promoting diversity and inclusion in international arbitration

In July, ICC issued a global call for interested candidates to participate in a newly-created Task Force on Disability Inclusion in International Arbitration, formed under the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. First members were announced on 3 December during a special event to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In July, ICC also announced plans to create an LGBTQIA network within the ICC Court following the launch earlier in the year of ICC World Business Pride, an ICC staff-led initiative to foster an inclusive environment for those in the LGBTQIA community. The ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin achieved gender parity and regional diversity among the 20 professionals making up the new editorial board announced in September. The Bulletin is widely regarded as one of the most important sources of news and commentary on international commercial arbitration and dispute resolution practice.

9. Shaping the next generation of arbitration and ADR professionals

In August, ICC named 89 new regional representatives for the 2021-2023 mandate of the ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, including appointments in 16 previously unrepresented countries and a newly-established chapter for Africa. A new initiative to “Hold the Door Open”, announced in November, also aims to give young arbitration practitioners in Africa an opportunity to gain practical experience by observing arbitration hearings. Earlier in the year, the 2021 ICC Mediation Competition was held virtually for the first time in its 16-year history, bringing together over 400 students, ADR professionals, academics and volunteers from close to 40 countries via a custom-built platform. New Zealand’s University of Auckland won the Competition, following a thrilling final against Bulgaria’s University of Sofia. The University of New South Wales, Australia took third place.

10. A network like no other 

In October, ICC announced plans to launch the ICC Court Alumni Group, keeping former members of the ICC Court connected to the leading dispute resolution institution and ICC. The Group’s Steering Committee is chaired by Kap-You (Kevin) Kim who is assisted by Vice-Chairs Inka Hanefeld, Yoshimi Ohara, Roland Ziade and Eduardo Zuleta.

Read more ICC achievements in 2021.