Since originally authoring this Article in 2011, a lot in the field of international arbitration has changed. The process of International arbitration itself as a legitimate process, is under unprecedented attack. It has been referred to by the EU Commission President in the context of the TTIP negotiations with the USA as “secret courts”, conjuring up images of a Star Chamber. Consumer groups and unions have questioned the use of arbitration proceeding in consumer and employment disputes. Legislators are proposing laws to restrict the use of arbitration. More dramatic for users, some of the benefits of arbitration, such as privacy, are being eroded.
While these attacks on the legitimacy of arbitration threaten to reduce the scope within arbitration might be used, Arbitrale Institutions have over the last four years published new rules that have sought to address the time and cost issues I wrote about below. In house counsel through groups like the CCIAG have worked together with Institutions to attempt to devise a process is faster and consequently cheaper. These changes have included providing arbitrators with more authority to require parties to adopt more expeditious procedures, cut down on documentary discovery, reduce hearing time and rationalise the use of experts. It has also required arbitrators to provide information about their case loads to ensure availability, hold scheduling hearings, penalise improper party behaviour through cost sanctions and to provide time limits on rendering awards.