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The Arbitration Rules of Milan Arbitration Chamber, which came into force a year ago (as discussed here), has recently been integrated. The new provisions, applying from 1st July 2020, establish a simplified arbitration procedure.
The said new provisions are contained in Annex D to the arbitration rules, available here (for the time being, only in Italian)
The new simplified arbitration procedure applies to arbitration proceedings, commenced after 1st July 2020, involving claims up to EUR 250,000, unless a party opposes to the application of these rules.
In other words, also parties that entered into an arbitration clause before 1st July 2020 are allowed to make use of the simplified arbitration procedure, however provided they (even implicitly) agree to that effect.
There is no specific provision in the event of an arbitration clause entered into after 1st July 2020, so that it seems reasonable to conclude that also in this case it is required that at the beginning of the proceedings the parties agree (also implicitly) on the application of simplified arbitration rules.
Furthermore, the rules at hand also apply in all proceedings, without limit of value, if the parties explicitly referred to them in the arbitration agreement or if the parties explicitly agreed on their application at any time prior to the filing of their request for arbitration and reply.
It is clear that the criterion underlying the said provisions is that of valuing the parties’ intentions. However, this is not unlimited: CAM’s council is indeed allowed to prevent the application of simplified arbitration rules, in the light of the dispute complexity, at the request of the appointed arbitrator or even ex officio.
Pursuant to the said provisions, the parties’ are supposed to file since the outset comprehensive submissions: in this perspective, the request for arbitration and the reply should indicate, inter alia, the proposed means of proof and, on pain of rejection, the facts that they intend to prove through the said means.
The Arbitral Tribunal, notwithstanding any contrary provision in the arbitration clause, would be composed of a sole arbitrator appointed by CAM and constituted by a specific instrument, whose content is not indicated by the new rules, but which would likely be similar to that of the terms of reference provided for by the rules of other arbitration centres.
As regards the conduct of the proceedings, it is characterised by the greatest efficiency.
The Arbitral Tribunal may, after hearing the parties, limit the length or subject matter of written submissions (which, unless otherwise determined by the Arbitral Tribunal, consist of only one submission per party following the request for arbitration/reply), as well as the number of documents and witnesses to be possibly heard. The parties are also precluded from raising new claims after the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal, unless authorised by the sole arbitrator. In addition, all procedural terms are mandatory and non-extendable (in that reversing the general rule applying in arbitration proceedings seated in Italy). The Arbitral Tribunal is not expected anyway to hold an arbitral hearing and in any case a sole hearing would take place for the taking of evidence and parties’ pleadings, also via audio conference, video conference or other suitable means. The award, eventually, would be filed within three months of the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal, in the absence of any extension granted by CAM.
In other words, the parties’ wishes, highly valued as regards the choice of simplified arbitration, are constricted during the proceedings, in pursuit of the main purpose of these new rules: to issue an enforceable award as soon as possible.
The parties to the proceedings also enjoy another advantage: CAM and arbitrators’ fees are significantly reduced in case of simplified arbitration.
These new rules, which were perhaps introduced in the light of the effects of CoViD-19 pandemic and taking account of the disputes that would derive from it, are drawn to interesting oversea practices, such as the Expedited Arbitration under the ICC Arbitration Rules or the, more radical, Business Arbitration Scheme of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and they are of great relevance, also in view of increased use of arbitration in domestic Italian disputes or international disputes involving Italian parties or otherwise connected to Italian jurisdiction.