Fast-Track on the International Scene – Vol. 2 No. 2

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AuthorJohn Bishop Ballem Q.C.*

Published: June 1991

International Institutions and Rules
Practice and Procedure
Expedited Proceedings

Description: The cases arbitrated under the auspices of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (the “Court”) herein discussed have been described as the first examples of “fast-track” procedure on the international arbitration scene. To this participant, at least, they could more aptly be described as “warp-speed” arbitration. The first intimation that I had of the remarkably compressed timetable was on December 20, 1991, when I received a communication from the Secretariat of the Court that the parties had stipulated to extend the deadline for rendering of the award to January 8, 1992. Not having been apprised of the time limits specified in the contract, I was about to contact the Secretariat and suggest that they had mistakenly inserted the wrong year and that the reference to January 8, 1992 perhaps should be January 8, 1993. I then received a phone call from the newly-appointed Chairman, Professor Hans Smit, who confirmed not only that the tribunal was indeed expected to come up with an award by January 8, 1992, but that the tribunal’s draft award would have to be in the hands of the Court in Paris for its next session on January 7, 1992.

This was a formidable task indeed, and was further complicated by the upcoming holiday season. I spent much of Christmas day on the telephone and celebrated New Year’s day on an airplane en route to the arbitration. Despite some initial misgivings about whether it was possible, under the circumstances, to have a full and adequate hearing of the dispute, at the end of the day I was satisfied that the relevant issues had been raised and considered and that the parties had been able to make their positions and arguments fully known to the tribunal.

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*Senior partner in the law firm of Ballem McDill MacInnes Eden, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The author was a member of the arbitral tribunal in the cases discussed herein.