Proponents of international arbitration often cite efficiency as one of its key advantages. But most of us will readily admit that arbitration—especially of complex, high-value disputes—is frequently not as efficient as its participants would prefer. Any experienced arbitration practitioner can point to arbitrations that took far too long and cost far too much.
One of international arbitration’s other key virtues—flexibility—can help. Each arbitration should only contain the procedures that are necessary and appropriate for that case. It is easier to achieve efficiency if all participants in the proceeding are committed to that goal. Over a decade ago we and our colleagues at Debevoise issued our Protocol to Promote Efficiency in International Arbitration, in which we identified approximately 25 procedures that could save time and cost in any arbitration. We expanded and reissued that Protocol in 2018. By publishing the Debevoise Efficiency Protocol, we sought not only to contribute to the international arbitration community’s ongoing conversation about the conduct of arbitrations, but to make a public commitment, as a team, to consider with our clients these and other procedures to make each arbitration more efficient.