Records set in International Chamber of Commerce’s (“ICC”) 2019 Dispute Resolution Statistics

Published: 9/9/2020

The ICC has recently published its 2019 Dispute Resolution Statistics for the cases administered by the ICC International Court of Arbitration in 2019. The figures confirm a record year in terms of the number of newly registered cases (surpassed only by 2016) as well as the broadening of the range of parties, arbitral seat locations and arbitrators sitting in ICC cases.

The 2019 Dispute Resolution Statistics are available here.

The figures demonstrate the continuing appeal of ICC arbitration rules amongst parties and lawyers worldwide and the continued positive shift to a more diverse and balanced (in terms of both gender and nationality) set of individuals sitting as arbitrators in ICC cases. It also shows a trend towards the continued regionalisation of ICC arbitrations, with ICC arbitration growing in popularity in Asia and South America in particular and with seats of arbitration being increasingly chosen closer to the parties’ home. Nevertheless, London maintained its position as the most popular seat chosen in ICC arbitrations and English law as the most popular substantive law applied. UK nationals also continued to be the most frequently appointed arbitrators in ICC cases.

Record Caseload
  • In 2019, the ICC had a total of 869 new cases registered, of which 851 were under the ICC Arbitration Rules. This is the second highest number of new cases after 2016 when 966 cases were registered with the ICC.
  • In total, there were 1,694 cases pending in 2019, with aggregate and average values of US$230 billion and US$140 million respectively (the latter was an increase of US$9 million on the 2018 figure).
  • The 2019 cases involved a wide range of industry sectors, although construction and energy continue to dominate with 211 and 140 cases respectively.
The appointed arbitrators were from 89 different jurisdictions, the highest number to date, reflecting a conscious effort by the ICC to increase the geographic diversity of its arbitrators.
Increased Diversity & Regionalisation
  • 2019 saw 1,476 ICC arbitrator appointments involving 972 individuals of which 312 were female (up from 273 in 2018).
  • Women now make up 21% of all appointments (an increase from 10% in 2015), 33% of sole arbitrator appointments (an increase from 29% in 2018), 24% of presidents (21% in 2018) and 15% co-arbitrators (13% in 2018). Despite a positive dynamic, this is still somewhat lower than the proportion of female arbitrators appointed by some other leading arbitral institutions (for example, 29% and 23% of all arbitrators appointed by the LCIA and the SCC respectively in 2019 were female).
  • The appointed arbitrators were from 89 different jurisdictions, the highest number to date, reflecting a conscious effort by the ICC to increase the geographic diversity of its arbitrators.
  • However, the usual suspects still dominate the appointments: 17.5% were British, 10% Swiss, 7.9% French, 7.3% from the USA, 5.9% German and 4.2% Brazilian. It should be noted that the number of Indian arbitrators more than doubled (from 16 in 2018 to 34 in 2019). This is likely to be explained by an increase in Indian parties in ICC arbitrations now ranking second by number after the US parties (47 parties in 2018 vs. 147 parties in 2019).
  • In 2019, there were 2,498 parties from 147 countries and territories (breaking the 2017 record of 142). The US maintains its position as the number one user of the ICC in terms of jurisdictions (although the number of US parties has somewhat decreased).
  • European parties comprised almost 40% of all users, with France (126), Germany (97), Spain (87), Italy (84) and the UK (78) being the highest.
  • In addition to the tripling of the number of Indian parties, the number of Chinese entities almost doubled (from 59 in 2018 to 105 in 2019). South East Asian/Pacific, African, Latin America and Caribbean parties also saw increases, with Brazil occupying the bronze medal in terms of users after the US and India. This would have been helped by the ICC creating a case management team in Sao Paolo in 2017.
  • The ICC arbitration seats also diversified. 2019 saw ICC arbitrations seated in 116 cities in 62 countries. This is an increase from 108 cities in 60 countries in 2018 with London (114 cases), Paris (106), Geneva (53) and Singapore (30) comprising the four most popular locations. As with the previous years, despite the continued dominance of European seats, there is an increase in regionalisation of the seats, with seats outside of Western Europe accounting for a little over 40% of the cases. Singapore saw a continued increase in seat selection (27 cases in 2018) and Madrid and Hong Kong made their entry into the top ten most selected cities as arbitral seats with 15 and 14 cases respectively.
  • English law remains the most popular choice of law, followed by Swiss law and laws of a US state.
  • Finally, 2019 also saw an increase of the use of the ICC by states and state entities (20% of new cases involved a state or state entity including two cases filed under bilateral investment treaties; this is an increase from 15% in 2018).

The latest set of statistics from the ICC is characterised by a significant growth of the ICC’s docket and shows that the ICC’s concerted push towards  gender and geographic diversity in the appointment of arbitrators, as well as towards greater regionalisation, is bearing fruit. These will be welcomed and not be a surprise to the international arbitration community. We will need to wait another year to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the number and types of cases filed at the ICC in 2020.  


This article was co-authored by Boris Telyatnikov, Evgeniya Rubinina, Daniel Levy and Anna Maxwell.

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