DOCDEX rules—what will rule changes mean in practice?

DOCDEX rules—what will rule changes mean in practice?

Matthew Harley of Stephenson Harwood LLP and Manisha Meetarbhan of BLC Chambers explain the changes to the Documentary Instruments Dispute Resolution Expertise (DOCDEX) rules and discuss the implications for trade finance lawyers.

What is the background to the revised International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) DOCDEX rules?

In 1997, the ICC created the DOCDEX service. DOCDEX is administered by the ICC’s International Centre for ADR (the Centre) and was originally intended to resolve trade finance disputes relating to documentary credits incorporating ICC rules. Once the Centre receives a claim, it appoints a panel of three experts with expertise and experience of the specific issues in dispute to make a decision, which is only binding if all the parties to the dispute have expressly agreed in writing to be bound. To ensure transparency, the parties are not informed of the identity of the experts and only liaise with the Centre.

The cost of the procedure is fixed by reference to the value in dispute: the maximum possible fee is US$15,000, but can be as little as US$5,000. DOCDEX offers a cheap, fast (and documents-only) procedure, with experts expected to render a decision within two to three months of the submission of the claim. Since 1997, the Centre has administered approximately 150 cases, with disputes ranging in value from US$500,000 to US$45m.

The DOCDEX rules were revised in 2002, when their scope was expanded to include guarantees and collections incorporating ICC rules. Since those revisions, there have been concerns with the scope of the DOCDEX rules and the operation of the service. In May 2015, the ICC revised the DOCDEX rules to address these concerns.

What are their aims?

The most important aims of the DOCDEX rules are to open DOCDEX to a wider variety of trade finance disputes, and to improve the speed and transparency of the procedure.

Under the old rules, only

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About the author:

Neeta has been working as a paralegal in Banking and Insolvency for the past 4 and a half years.

She started her legal career at Allen & Overy in 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis and the collapse of Lehmans where she gained most of her experience.

Neeta also did a short stint in litigation at the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. Neeta graduated with a 2:1 honours degree from University of London, Queen Mary College and went on to obtain a distinction from the College of Law in the Legal Practice Course. She moved to Lexis®PSL in April 2013.