The leading international arbitration institutions, including the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”) and the International Court of Arbitration (“ICC”), are revising their arbitration rules to improve efficiency, flexibility and transparency, and address challenges and concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a previous post, we discussed LCIA’s updates to its arbitration and mediation rules, which came in effect on October 1, 2020.  The ICC has issued similar updates to its 2017 Arbitration Rules, which will take effect on January 1, 2021 (the “2021 ICC Rules”).  The updates, according to the ICC Court President, Alexis Mourre:

mark a further step towards greater efficiency, flexibility and transparency of the Rules, making ICC Arbitration even more attractive, both for large, complex arbitrations and for smaller cases.

Notable and substantive revisions to the 2021 ICC Rules include:

Electronic Submissions

            Article 3 of the 2021 ICC Rules now allows the parties to make their submissions by email, replacing the previous requirement to provide the submissions in a hard copy.  This amendment recognizes that most communications are now conducted electronically and addresses COVID-19 concerns when hard copy filing may be impossible and present health risks.

Virtual Hearings

            The ICC, like other international arbitration fora, quickly adopted to the COVID-19 reality of remote hearings.  Article 26(1) of the 2021 ICC Rules now provides that “[t]he arbitral tribunal may decide, after consulting the parties, and on the basis of the relevant facts and circumstances of the case, that any hearing will be conducted by physical attendance or remotely by videoconference, telephone or other appropriate means of communication.”
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