Is Expediting Arbitration Possible, and Under What Circumstances?

October 15, 2021

Commercial litigation can be financially and emotionally draining. In order to avoid navigating the legal complexities or many types of commercial litigation, many contracts have provisions that allow for arbitration…

Commercial litigation can be financially and emotionally draining. In order to avoid navigating the legal complexities or many types of commercial litigation, many contracts have provisions that allow for arbitration in the event of a legal dispute. Commercial arbitration is a process in which both parties involved in the dispute go to a third party with no vested interest in the case. This party is called an arbitrator, and they will hear both sides of the issue and determine a fair resolution.

The primary benefit of selecting arbitration over commercial litigation is that arbitration is private and can be conducted in a neutral location. In many instances, the arbitration will help both parties achieve a resolution far quicker than the litigious process. When a particularly fast outcome is required, the parties may pursue expedited arbitration.

What is Expedited Arbitration?

The International Chamber of Commerce has developed Rules of Arbitration, which offer an expedited procedure for streamlined arbitration with a reduced scale of fees. There is a bit of a trade-off when the expedited arbitration process is selected. The scope of proceedings is shortened, which results in the ability to achieve speedier outcomes. However, entering the expedited process should be done with a realistic expectation of the scope of the proceedings. If both parties expect to have the same level of attention and detail as they would receive under non-expedited arbitration, they may quickly become frustrated with the proceedings and the parties involved in the proceedings.

With expedited arbitration, the procedure is simplified in the following ways:

  • There are no Terms of Reference
  • A case management conference will occur within 15 days after the date the file was transmitted to the arbitral tribunal.
  • The arbitral tribunal may decide on documents only.
  • The arbitral tribunal may limit the number, length, and scope of written submission and written witness evidence.

If both parties agree to the limited scope of the expedited arbitration, the final award is rendered within six months from the case management conference. This option may work well under certain circumstances. However, it should only be pursued if both parties fully understand how limiting the scope of the process may affect their ability to achieve a favorable decision.

Under What Circumstances Can Expedited Arbitration be Pursued?

The Rules of Expedited Arbitration outline the circumstances that must be met before expedited arbitration can be pursued. Any matters that do not meet these criteria would be ineligible for expedited arbitration.

The Rules of Expedited Arbitration State that Expedited Procedure Provisions apply if:

  • The amount in dispute does not exceed U.S. $2,000,000 if the arbitration agreement was concluded on or after March 1, 2017, and before January 1, 2021; or
  • The amount in dispute does not exceed U.S. $3,000,000 if the arbitration agreement was concluded on or after January 1, 2021; and
  • The parties have not opted out of the Expedited Procedure Rules in the arbitration agreement or at any time thereafter.

These criteria must be met for the Expedited Arbitration to be a viable legal option. Furthermore, the ICC Rules also state that the Expedited Procedure Provisions do not apply if:

  • The arbitration agreement under the Rules was concluded before March 1, 2017;
  • The parties have agreed to opt-out of the Expedited Procedure Provisions; or
  • The Court, upon the request of a party before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or on its own motion, determines that it is inappropriate in the circumstances to apply the Expedited Procedure Provisions.

When to Pursue Expedited Arbitration

Expedited arbitration can be a great option under the right circumstances. It can help both parties avoid an expensive and lengthy commercial litigation process. Arbitration can be faster – especially under the expedited arbitration provisions – and it is often less expensive and more private. Unfortunately, it comes with the same drawback as the regular arbitration process; it cannot be appealed.

However, if both parties are ok with losing the right to appeal, arbitration may be the best option. If both parties are ok with limiting the scope of the arbitration process, expedited arbitration can help them find legal resolution far faster than other legal avenues.

However, as with all legal decisions, selecting the right course of action should only be done after careful consideration of the case’s merits, resources, and the benefits and drawbacks of each process. It is often advisable to seek legal advice or representation before selecting the right legal route. To learn more about commercial arbitration and the expedited arbitration process, contact the legal experts at Grellas Shah today!

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