SCC Forecast: A brand new tool in the toolbox
We constantly assess the tools that we offer our users. Are they still right for the times? Or do they need a new feature, an improvement, a sharper blade? Or is something missing from the toolbox?
This month, the SCC is adding a new tool to the dispute toolbox: the SCC Rules for Express Dispute Assessment, or SCC Express for short. We designed this tool with resource efficiency in mind, crafted it carefully together with a special task force, and are now eagerly waiting for our users to pick it up and start building something with it. (Yes, I do plan to stick with the handyman metaphor.)
Our mission at the SCC is to promote trade. We do this by making sure that companies spend the least possible amount of time and resources on disputes, leaving them free to focus on their core business, building important relationships, or perhaps innovating to save the planet. Promoting trade is why we strive to offer the most suitable, up-to-date mechanisms – the sharpest tools, one might say – to resolve disputes big or small, complex or singular, between litigious or solution-oriented parties.
We constantly assess the tools that we offer our users. Are they still right for the times? Or do they need a new feature, an improvement, a sharper blade? Or is something missing from the toolbox? This continuous process of self-evaluation has already resulted in several upgrades and additions – expedited arbitration, emergency arbitrator proceedings, summary procedure in the SCC Arbitration Rules, and most recently, the SCC Platform and the Ad Hoc Platform. SCC Express is the next link in this chain of innovation.
A couple of years ago, we began noticing a number of trends that seemed to indicate it might be time to add something new to our toolbox. For example:
- We saw emergency arbitrator applications that quite clearly did not meet – or even try to meet – the “urgency” requirement, but rather seemed geared toward receiving a prima facie assessment of the merits of the case.
- Third party funders told us that their assessments and funding offers were being used in settlement negotiations to show the strength of a party’s case.
- We heard anecdotic evidence that there were some large contracts out there that included expedited arbitration, revealing the parties’ willingness to use a more scaled-back procedure also for higher-value disputes.
And then one day, someone reached out to us and, perhaps half-jokingly, requested a mechanism that would provide a legal assessment of a dispute, in a short amount of time, at a fixed price. Like a dispute resolution board, but not limited to long-term contracts. Like mediation, but with an outcome that is more like an arbitral award. Like emergency arbitration, but without the emergency. And then someone else reached out, with a similar question. And then the question was posed in a panel I attended.
These indicators led us to convene a task force, conduct a user survey, and eventually, to pick up a pencil and start sketching the outlines of a new tool – the SCC Rules for Express Dispute Assessment. The result is a consent-based, confidential and efficient process designed to give parties a legal assessment of their dispute in three weeks, for a fixed fee (EUR 29 000). There is a set format and procedure, removing the need for party agreement, but some flexibility is available for parties that do agree.
The most recent Queen Mary Survey reported respondents saying that “arbitration is becoming increasingly overformalistic, at the expense of efficiency.” SCC Express seeks to evade the formalism but still give the parties an idea of how an arbitrator would assess or decide their dispute. This may help them reach settlement, or to narrow the scope and increase the efficiency of an ensuing arbitration.
To learn about the features and intended purpose of SCC Express, read the Practice Guide to the SCC Rules for Express Dispute Assessment.
We know from experience that we cannot always predict how a tool will be used. So please, grab it from the toolbox, try it out, and pass it around the dispute resolution community. We look forward to seeing how and for what you will use it. We also welcome community input during our upcoming events on SCC Express: June 10 for Swedish users and October 7 for international users.
Head of Business Development