Reed Smith News Flashes

While every international arbitration involves significant issues for the parties to it, not every international arbitration involves large enough monetary claims to justify the time and expense of a fully blown arbitration process.

With international arbitration being the dispute resolution mechanism of choice for international contracts, with the added benefit of avoiding litigation before local courts, it is only right that the arbitration process has evolved in recent years to create rules for expedited arbitration procedures.

In a recent episode of our Arbitral Insights podcast series, Gautam Bhattacharyya and Victoria Spilkin discussed the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC’s) expedited arbitration procedure rules. In brief, the ICC’s rules provide for a streamlined and speedier arbitration process before a sole arbitrator in cases involving claims of no more than US$2 million. This can be a very effective way to efficiently resolve disputes through an award within a few months (often about six months). Other arbitral institutions have also adopted expedited arbitration procedures to meet the demand of international arbitration consumers.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), though not an arbitral institution, comprises a well-respected and well-used body of international arbitration rules. UNCITRAL adopted its own expedited arbitration provisions in July 2021, and these rules came into force last month. The rules will be a further useful tool for parties to consider using. The gist of the UNCITRAL expedited arbitration rules is similar to that of the other expedited arbitration rules in operation, although unlike, say, the ICC’s expedited rules, there is no monetary limit of claims limiting when UNCITRAL’s expedited rules may be agreed to by the parties.

In line with other expedited rules, UNCITRAL’s expedited rules give the sole arbitrator the flexibility, in consultation with the parties, to adapt the procedural timetable with a view to rendering an award within six months of the arbitrator’s appointment (and within nine months at latest), and this can include truncating the documentary disclosure process and, where appropriate, dispensing with the need for an oral hearing.