ICC Arbitration and the ICC International Court of Arbitration are known and enormously respected worldwide by businesses, governments, judges, lawyers and academics, among others. That reputation was earned by a long history of the Court striving for excellence and constantly being at the forefront of developments in the world of international arbitration.
ICC was established in 1919, and the Court in 1923.
No other arbitration institution can match the global reach and international character of ICC Arbitration.
In 2015, ICC Arbitration took place in 56 countries in 97 different cities, involved 1313 arbitrators of 77 different nationalities, with 2 283 parties from 133 different countries, among 801 cases registered and 498 awards rendered. The Court's members come from 84 countries and boast numerous world renowned experts in international arbitration. Furthermore, the Court and Secretariat can call upon ICC national committees in some 90 countries for assistance in finding the best arbitrators.
Some 80% of the 2015 awards were written in English. The other four most frequently used languages were Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. Other languages used were Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Slovak, Arabic, Greek, Romanian and Turkish. In three cases bilingual awards were rendered, in English and Chinese and in English and Portuguese.
The Secretariat has a staff of more than 100 including some 50 lawyers holding approximately 37 nationalities and speaking approximately 30 languages.
ICC is a non-governmental organization and is truly neutral and independent.
ICC Arbitration may take place in any country, in any language and with any independent and impartial arbitrators of any nationality.
While maintaining strict neutrality, Secretariat staff are always available to answer questions from parties, their counsel, arbitrators, and any other actors involved in ICC Arbitration.
When drafting a contract for example, parties can easily contact the Secretariat with a question about ICC Arbitration clauses. As an alternative to calling the Secretariat's Paris or Hong Kong offices or SICANA Inc in New York, parties may contact one of the Regional Directors based in Americas, Asia and the Middle East and Africa. Secretariat staff are reachable by phone or email (
During an arbitration, parties and arbitrators are in close contact with the team of the Secretariat that has been assigned to manage their case.
ICC Arbitration is adaptable to the parties’ needs. The Rules of Arbitration are short, flexible and simple. They can be adapted or simply used for virtually any kind of procedure that the parties want.
The parties are free to agree on the number of arbitrators. Failing agreement, the Court will decide whether there is to be one or three. When three arbitrators are required, each party generally chooses one and the third is appointed by the Court unless the parties agree on a different appointment method. Sole arbitrators are appointed by the Court, unless the parties agree otherwise.
There is not a list of arbitrators so the parties can choose whomever they want, provided that all arbitrators are and remain independent and impartial.
The Court requires all arbitrators to sign a statement of acceptance, independence, impartiality, and availability. The Court can refuse to confirm nominated arbitrators in certain circumstances, such as when they do not meet the required standards of independence, impartiality or availability.
- Place of arbitration, hearings and meetings
ICC Arbitrations can be held anywhere in the world. The parties can choose the legal place of arbitration that they consider most appropriate in the interests of neutrality, economy convenience, and legal effectiveness. Parties can alternatively leave this important choice to the Court, trusting in its members’ expertise to select the right place for their arbitration.
Regardless of the place of arbitration, the parties can choose to hold hearings and meetings in different locations. In fact it sometimes happens that no hearing or meeting is held at the place of arbitration.
Parties can agree on the applicable law by choosing the law of any state, or transnational legal principles such as the general principles of international commercial law. They could alternatively opt for no law at all, empowering the arbitral tribunal to decide the case as amiable compositeur or decide ex aequo et bono.
Arbitrations can take place in any language or even in several languages simultaneously (although the latter can be inconvenient and cause additional costs). Parties can agree on any language(s) for the arbitration, failing which the arbitral tribunal will decide it.
The parties can fix deadlines for anything, such as for the filing of submissions, hearings, and for completing the arbitration. Caution must be exercised, however, when fixing deadlines to ensure that they are not unrealistic.
It is up to the parties to spell out the claims and how the case will be handled. For example, parties may prefer the case to be decided solely on the basis of documents or witnesses to be called.
Parties can fix or limit the arbitrators’ role and powers, where this is considered desirable. The parties can even decide to remove an arbitrator they are not happy with at any time.
6. Controlling time and party generated costs
If the parties agree on appropriate procedures, arbitration can be faster and cheaper than court litigation, especially considering that arbitration is final in the sense that there is generally no appeal from an international arbitral award.
The Court is committed to assisting parties and arbitral tribunals in ensuring that disputes are resolved as quickly and as economically as possible. The ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, the Court’s legislative and policy organ, recently undertook a detailed study on controlling time and costs in arbitration. A set of guidelines was produced, and several of the key recommendations from those guidelines were incorporated into the 2012 ICC Rules of Arbitration. In fact, one of the reasons for revising the ICC Rules of Arbitration was to incorporate provisions aimed at minimizing time and costs.
The Court closely monitors time limits and arbitrators’ performance. The Court can step in and replace arbitrators that fail to fulfill their obligations promptly.
ICC recommends ICC Arbitration Commission Report on Techniques for Controlling Time and Costs in Arbitration
7. Predictable administrative costs and arbitrators' fees
The Court fixes ICC’s administrative costs using a costs scale, by reference primarily to the amount in dispute. As the amount in dispute increases, the percentage of administrative costs decreases, until the cap is reached. The arbitrators’ fees are also calculated by reference to a costs scale. Using the cost scales has two main advantages. First, it means that the parties know up front how much the arbitration is likely to cost. Second, it means that the cost of resolving a dispute will be appropriately proportionate to its economic value. The Court retains discretion to adjust up or down the amount of costs generated by the costs scales where necessary.
Parties can calculate the approximate cost of ICC Arbitration by using the cost calculator on the Court’s website. Simply enter the amount in dispute to calculate the fees and administrative costs generated by the scales.
Link to the Cost calculator
8. Interim measures of protection
The ICC Rules of Arbitration provide various options for parties seeking urgent interim relief. The 2012 Rules of Arbitration provide a procedure for urgent interim relief within two weeks of filing a request, and thus well before the arbitral tribunal is constituted. Another option is state courts. The Rules preserve parties’ rights to seek such relief from courts. A third option is to seek urgent relief from the arbitral tribunal, once constituted.
The Court and Secretariat’s work is entirely confidential. ICC does not disclose any information about its cases except to those involved.
The arbitration process is also private, unlike domestic court proceedings which are usually open to the public.
Parties are also free to make their arbitration proceedings confidential, so that the parties cannot disclose documents, submissions and awards. An obligation of confidentiality is considered to be implied into an arbitration agreement under some laws. Arbitral tribunals may also make orders concerning confidentiality and may take measures for protecting trade secrets and confidential information.
10. Award scrutiny to enhance enforceability
The Court strives to ensure that all ICC awards are enforceable. The mandatory award scrutiny process, in particular, is renowned for improving both the convincingness and enforceability of awards. It involves a thorough review of all awards by at least four or five expert arbitration lawyers, including Secretariat staff and Court members. Potential problems are regularly discovered. In 2015 the Court approved 498 awards, of which 494 were returned to the arbitral tribunal with at least some comments to be addressed.
Improving an award's convincingness increases its chances of being complied with voluntarily. Most ICC awards are, in fact, respected without the need for legal enforcement procedures. Where enforcement becomes necessary, ICC's stamp of approval together with the Court's careful monitoring of the proceedings and scrutiny of awards is intended to maximize the award's chances of being enforceable.
Several international, regional or bilateral conventions facilitate the enforcement of arbitral awards. More than 155 countries have adopted the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, an extremely successful international law in this respect
Link to ICC International Court of Arbitration pages