Used correctly, fast track arbitration is an efficient and effective way of resolving disputes. It is not, however, suitable for every kind of dispute and parties seeking to use fast track arbitration should consider the practical realities.
Fast track arbitration goes some way to addressing concerns that traditional arbitration has become too much like litigation and can no longer deliver on its promise to provide fast and cost effective dispute resolution. These concerns are particularly relevant in the context of commercial projects.
Fast track arbitration is not a distinct kind of arbitration. Rather, it is simply a meaner, leaner version of traditional arbitration. In contrast to traditional arbitration, procedures in fast track arbitration are expedited with the aim of accelerating the delivery of the award. Ordinarily, this is achieved by limiting the timeframes for procedural steps, narrowing disclosure and confining submissions to writing.
Most major international arbitral institutions have updated their respective rules with a view to making them more efficient and commercially competitive. For example, ACICA’s 2011 Expedited Arbitration Rules and the ICC’s update to its rules in January 2012 were done with the express purpose of providing a faster more efficient arbitration experience.
There are, however, a number of practical realities that parties should consider before adopting fast track procedures. For example:
While the idea of fast track arbitration can be attractive, it can give rise to its own set of problems. The practical realities of fast track arbitration warrant proper consideration. In many cases a ‘four-eyes review’ in addition to buy-in across the business is advisable so that the need for speed does not result in a prang.
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