Information Technology in International Arbitration - Report of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR

No. 882-1 ENG

ISBN : 978-92-842-0455-7

The concept of information technology (“IT”) is broad enough to encompass all electronic means to produce, modify, capture, store, transmit, and display information.

In international arbitration, the use of IT can include, for example, (i) email and other electronic communications between and among the parties, the arbitrator or arbitrators (the “tribunal”), and the administering body; (ii) storage of information for access by the parties and the tribunal using portable or fixed storage media (e.g. flash drives, DVDs, hard drives, and cloud-based storage); (iii) software and media used to present the parties’ respective cases in an electronic format, rather than a paper format; and (iv) hearing room technologies (e.g. videoconferencing, multimedia presentations, translations, and “real time” electronic transcripts). When used – and especially when used effectively – IT can help the parties in international arbitration to save time and costs and to ensure that the arbitration is managed and conducted efficiently. On the other hand, if poorly managed, IT can increase time and costs, or – in the worst case – even result in unfair treatment of a party.

Since the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR’s Task Force on the Use of Information Technology in International Arbitration first reported on this subject in 2004, the use and acceptance of IT in international arbitration has substantially increased, and advances in technology have led to solutions that previously were not readily available or technically mature. For example, in 2004, although correspondence among the parties, the tribunal, and the administering body was exchanged by email, duplicate correspondence often was sent by post or overnight courier service. Today, once the tribunal has been constituted, written communication takes place predominantly, if not exclusively, in electronic format. As predicted in 2004, PDF is the electronic format generally used for written submissions. In 2004, parties rarely used file transfer protocol (“FTP”) servers (whether controlled by a party or a commercial third party service) to transfer large submissions to the other parties and the tribunal, principally because setting up the required environment was too demanding. Today, transferring information via readily-available bulk file hosting services using the FTP protocol (e.g. Dropbox; Google Drive) is more common.

In 2004, users in international arbitration seemed to place much more emphasis on having a secure, confidential, flexible online “virtual data room” (e.g. a dedicated online file repository) with complex additional functionalities where the parties, arbitrators, and (if involved) arbitral institution could access all pleadings, correspondence and other submissions continuously and in real time, much as the ICC envisioned when it launched its innovative case management product, “NetCase”, in 2005. Today, while the ICC is working to develop an updated internet-based case management product, some parties use general purpose services, such as Google Documents and similar services, to exchange and store documents. Although often free, these services are subject to acceptance of certain general terms and conditions that give the service provider many rights of use and analysis.

Either users of these products are unaware of these terms and conditions, or concerns about confidentiality, security and data integrity are less important to them than ease of accessibility and simplicity of use.

As work on this report progressed, the lack of reliable and statistically significant information concerning the frequency and sophistication of IT use in international arbitration became apparent. Despite the availability of “war stories” and anecdotes (which are often interesting but might have been shared to show that the arbitrator or lawyer who shared them is “IT savvy”), “hard” data was scarce. Ironically, this dearth of information is probably good news. Given that bad experiences are often reported immediately to the arbitration community, the absence of negative data and anecdotes in relation to IT use suggests that IT is not disruptive and has not created new procedural hurdles or difficulties that would be worth mentioning. Indeed, some issues that were identified in the 2004 report have thus turned out to be merely potential issues, without much impact in the “real world”. These issues still exist, but they have materialised less often and – seemingly – with lesser impact than might have been the case. Other issues, such as the fully enforceable, fully electronic award, remain as barriers still to be conquered.

Code ISBN : 978-92-842-0455-7
Number of pages : 28
Publishing date : 2017-03-03
Language : English


1. Agreeing to use IT

1.1 Agreement to arbitrate

1.2 After the dispute has arisen

1.3 IT and the selection of arbitrators

2. Issues during arbitral proceedings

2.1 Role of the parties

2.2 The tribunal’s role

3. Other specific issues that may be relevant to parties and tribunals at any stage of the arbitration

3.1 Compatibility issues

3.2 Electronic exchange of exhibits and other submissions

3.3 Data integrity issues

3.4 Proof of service

3.5 Confidentiality and data security

3.6 Intellectual property

4. Issues relevant to the hearings


Examples of Wording that Might be Used for Directions for the Use of IT

A. Sample wording for pre-dispute agreement on IT use

B. Sample wording for Terms of Reference

C. Sample wording for first procedural orders

D. Sample wording for pre-hearing orders

E. Other sample wording for the procedural timetable / procedural orders 

Prepared by the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR.

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