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14 January 2021

ICC celebrates record year for arbitration and mediation caseloads

Records fall as Paris body hails 9% increase in arbitration cases while its ADR centre registers its 400th case

By Ben Rigby

The nameplate on the ICC's Paris headquarters

Chrisdorney; Shutterstock

Paris-based ICC’s International Court of Arbitration has reported a strong year in 2020 with 946 new cases, of which 929 were requested under its own rules, the highest figure achieved to date.

The overall tally is the largest for four years and represents a 9% increase from 2019, when 869 cases were received, of which 851 were appointed under ICC rules. The rise in cases is part of a global trend with London, Singapore and Dubai all recording significant increases in referrals.

The ICC’s outgoing president, Alexis Mourre, welcomed the data, citing the centre’s support for large, complex multi-party and multi-contract cases as well as a drive to improve time and costs efficiency, especially in lower-value cases.

Costas Frangeskides, a partner at HFW, praised the ICC, which introduced a new set of rules in January, for being “proactive and innovative in making its rules and services fit for purpose” and for its “quick and nimble handling of urgent requirements to deal with complex and multi-party cases remotely across various jurisdictions following the Covid-19 crisis”.

Professor Charles Debattista, 36 Stone’s head of chambers, added: “The figures are a tribute to the far reach of the ICC and its many standard rules; to the regular and market-sensitive way in which its arbitration rules are reviewed, most recently this very year; to the court and its secretariat, with their amazing staff in Paris who have kept things going smoothly despite Covid-circumstances; but above all to the quality of arbitrators which the ICC manages to attract.”

There was also good news for mediators, with the ICC’s ADR centre, which spans mediation, expert appraisal and dispute boards, receiving its 400th request for mediation, having added 77 new cases in 2020, of which 45 were mediations, a new record.

The news follows the coming to force in September of the Singapore Convention on Mediation which establishes an international framework for the direct enforcement of mediated settlement agreements.

Alex Oddy, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, said: “It is encouraging to see the rise in the number of mediations in particular which may reflect a vote of confidence in mediation following the Singapore Convention coming into force in September 2020. Mediation has adapted quickly and effectively to the virtual arena as the ICC statistics demonstrate.”

Mourre, whose second term as president ends in July 2021, will be replaced by former Latham & Watkins global co-chair of international arbitration, New York-based lawyer Claudia Salomon, who stepped down from the US firm this month.

This month has seen the launch of two arbitration boutiques in Paris, by Linklaters’ former co-head of arbitration, Pierre Duprey, and Catherine Schroeder-Paillard, who left Derains & Gharavi after 15 years to set up Schroeder Arbitration. 

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