The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released its annual Dispute Resolution Statistics for 2020 on August 3, 2021. The study parallels significant developments that have been identified in other arbitral organizations’ findings. The ICC amended its Rules Of arbitration in January 2021, with the goal of increasing effectiveness, adaptability, and openness. Despite the obstacles created by COVID-19, the number of happenings referred to the International Court of Arbitration (the ICC Court) has continued to rise, with the number of cases managed by the organization hitting a new change in 2020. The ICC’s caseload remains multinational in scope, and the parties and arbitrators participating have become more diverse.
Some of the key outcomes from ICC’s 2020 Statistics are here:
In 2020, the ICC Court received 929 new applications. This brings the total number of cases handled by the ICC Arbitration Rules to 1,833, the overall number of parties to 2,507, and the overall number of arbitrators appointed or confirmed to 1,520. The International Centre for ADR at the ICC has also seen an increment of 77 new cases, that includes 45 mediation petitions, which is a new high.
On January 1, 2021, the latest iteration of the ICC Arbitration Rules went into change. The 2021 Rules, which were released alongside a revised notice to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration (the ICC Note), attempted to address the latest developments in international arbitration, also including virtual hearings in the aftermath of the pandemic, rephrase arbitral appointments and ethical lapses, third-party funding, and the growing prevalence of multi-party arbitrations. Moreover, the ICC Court issued a COVID-19 set of guidelines (the COVID-19 Guideline Note) in April 2021, which analyses specific steps that may assist alleviate the pandemic’s adverse effects on ICC arbitrations, particularly as it relates to the organization and execution of virtual hearings.
Women currently make up 23.4 percent of ICC arbitral tribunals, according to the ICC’s 2020 Statistics. 355 female arbitrators were approved or assigned in 2020, based on the ICC’s 2020 Statistics. This is up from 21.1 percent last year. In 2020, 42 percent of women confirmed/appointed as arbitrators were recommended by the parties, 40 percent by the ICC Court, and 18 percent by the co-arbitrators to act as head of the arbitration panel. In addition, arbitrators appointed or approved in the last year came from 92 jurisdictions, the ICC’s biggest geographic location to date. It is apparent that ICC justices have become more varied than ever, demonstrating the organization’s dedication to gender balance, diversity, and tolerance, as seen by the selection of Claudia Salomon as the very first female President of the ICC Court, beginning July 1, 2021.
The ICC has already seen cases arise from a diverse wide spectrum of industries in recent years, with the construction and transportation industries typically generating the most conflicts, and 2020 was no exception. In 2020, these two industries accounted for roughly 38% of all new cases filed by the ICC. Health/pharmaceutical, commercial trade and transportation, industrial products and infrastructure, and financing and insurance are among the other sectors that account for 5-7 percent of newly-registered cases. Although the ICC has not given year-over-year data or a sector split, it seems that the pandemic’s effects are beginning to manifest themselves in legal conflicts in some of these areas (e.g., health and pharmaceuticals, international trade, and logistics and transportation).
Delays, hearings, and arbitral tribunals
The mean length of time it took for cases to achieve an arbitration judgment in 2020 was 26 months, with an overall mean of 22 months. A total of 564 awards were granted by the ICC Court in 2020. (142 partial awards, 383 final awards, and 39 awards by consent). While the vast majority of draught awards were granted (with the exception of a few points for the arbitration court to consider), 47 draught awards (7 percent of the overall awards scrutinized in 2020) were rejected by the ICC Court and were sent back to the independent arbitrator for additional review.
According to the ICC Note, solo arbitrators and three-member panels must produce draught decisions within two and three quarters, respectively, following the conclusion during the last appeals hearing or the filing of the last substantial arguments (whichever is later). In 2020, a total of 152 final draught awards (indicating 26.9% of all awards) were submitted for review outside of the above time span, and in 49 of those cases, the ICC Court reduced arbitrators’ fees because the delay was considerable and could not be attributed to factors beyond the arbitrators regulate or extraordinary situations. According to the ICC’s 2020 Statistics, the proportion of final awards filed with a three-to-six-month delay (25 awards in 2020) has been reduced by half since the fee reductions practice began in 2016. Nevertheless, the reality that over 27% of draught judgments presented to the ICC Court in 2020 failed to fulfill the ICC Note’s time restrictions implies that there is always a scope for improvement.