We speak with Claudia Salomon, recently appointed President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, the first woman President of the ICC Court in its almost 100-year history.
Congratulations on your election. Please tell our readers a little about what your role as President of the ICC Court entails?
The ICC is recognized as the world’s leading arbitral institution. As the President of the ICC Court, I am focused on ensuring that ICC’s dispute resolution services meet the needs of global business.
The ICC Court ensures that the process works. This is the most diverse ICC Court in its history – with 195 Court members from 120 different countries, with more women than men, and more Court members from African countries than ever before.
Firstly, the ICC Court reviews draft awards before they are finalized to ensure that the arbitral tribunal has considered the issues to be decided, has taken into account all of the arguments of the parties, and that its reasoning is clear. Parties then know that they are getting what they bargained for – the best likelihood of an enforceable award.
Secondly, the ICC Court determines whether to accept or reject challenges to arbitrators, assessing their independence and impartiality, and the Court’s reasons are now provided to the parties if requested. This brings transparency to the process. Transparency equalizes access to important information. Instead of some participants in the process having exclusive knowledge based on their previous experience, all parties – wherever they are in the world – can get the information they need to make better decisions.
What excites you most about your new role?
I wanted this role because I really believe
in the ICC – and its purpose. ICC is the
global voice of business – founded in the
wake of World War I, over 100 years ago,
by a pioneering group of entrepreneurs,
seeking to promote peace and prosperity
through cross-border trade. They
understood that to facilitate cross-border
business, there needed to be a dispute
resolution procedure that met the needs
of global business. And they understood
the importance of access to justice and the
rule of law. That purpose is no less true
than today. As cross-border business has
continued to increase, businesses around
the globe know that ICC is a trusted
institution to resolve those disputes.
I wanted this role because I really believe in the ICC – and its purpose.
What are some of the key challenges facing you during your first term?
We are in a highly competitive
environment, so I am focused on three key
First is that crucial moment when
companies are entering into a contract
and drafting a dispute resolution clause –
what is going to make them insist on ICC
arbitration and not some other method of
resolving a dispute? General Counsel tell
us that they use ICC arbitration because
ICC is the institution they trust.
Second is the period of time from when
an arbitration is filed until an award is
issued, assuring that the service the parties
receive exceeds their expectations and is
transparent and predictable. ICC’s case
management team is second to none.
Parties don’t want to be in an arbitration; they want to resolve their dispute.
Third is ensuring that we focus on the
parties’ objectives when they are in an
arbitration. Parties don’t want to be in
an arbitration; they want to resolve their
We need to provide a suite of integrated
services – the proverbial tools in a
toolbox – to enable parties to achieve
their objectives. To meet the needs of the
global business community, we also must
meet the needs of small and medium-size
enterprises (SMEs) and the demand for
additional ADR – and dispute prevention –
How do you feel to be the first woman elected as President of the ICC Court?
I am truly honored. And what a testament
to my predecessor, Alexis Mourre, who had
the audacity to insist on gender parity of
the ICC Court in 2018. The significance
of this change cannot be understated,
given that the Court was only 10% women
in 2015. I know I stand on the shoulders
of those who came before me, and the
generations of women who paved the way.
And I am inspired by the words of U.S. Vice
President Kamala Harris: “While I may be
the first woman in this office, I will not be
What can be done (and by whom) to encourage more diversity in arbitrator appointments as well as more broadly in arbitration?
Diversity, broadly defined, is fundamental
to the legitimacy of international arbitration
– so we reflect the entire global business
community and their values.
75% of all arbitrators appointed in ICC
cases in 2020 were nominated by the
parties (60%) or the co-arbitrators (15%)
often with input, as we know, from the
parties. Only 25% of arbitrators were
selected by the ICC Court either as direct
appointments or as a result of proposals
through national committees or groups.
In 2020, 16% of the arbitrators nominated
by the parties were women (compared to
11% in 2016); 28% of the chairs nominated
by the co-arbitrators were women
(compared to 13% in 2016), but 37% of
the appointments by the ICC Court –
either upon proposal of an ICC national
committee or group or directly – were
women (compared to 23% in 2016).
But if we are to see a sizable increase in the diversity of arbitrators, it will be important for the parties themselves to insist that their counsel provide diverse lists of arbitrators to consider.
Much work still needs to be done, and you
can expect significant diversity initiatives
involving concrete steps during my term,
including working with the national
committees to include diversity among the
factors considered when making proposals
of arbitrators. But if we are to see a sizable
increase in the diversity of arbitrators, it will
be important for the parties themselves
to insist that their counsel provide diverse
lists of arbitrators to consider.
In-house counsel and outside counsel
have a crucial role to play in ensuring
that arbitrators in ICC cases reflect the
increasing diversity of the global business
What other innovations is the ICC currently working on?
I am focused on ensuring that every aspect
of international arbitration has a client
mindset. This means that the parties
– essentially our clients – are the ones
driving the service requirements. I believe
the best way to identify what parties want
in each particular case – and to improve
our ability to respond to those desires
– is to engage the parties themselves
more deeply in the arbitral process. With
this approach, the parties can have
more control over the way in which the
resolution of their dispute unfolds. Given
the expanding role of in-house counsel
over the last decade to more of a business
strategist and risk manager, we have the
opportunity to ensure that the arbitration
process better reflects this role.
Looking ahead, we will focus on the needs
of SMEs)that drive the global economy
and have been most impacted by the
pandemic. We know they need an effective
means of resolving low-value disputes.
We are working closely with the broader
ICC, which is establishing centres for
entrepreneurship throughout the world
providing services and assisting SMEs.
We are also focused on technology-related
disputes, biotechnology, and artificial
intelligence (AI). We will see tremendous
and rapid growth in this area of highend
manufacturing, and can expect an
increase in such disputes. About 40% of
ICC cases fall in the category of energy or
construction and infrastructure, and we
expect to see that trend to continue.
The 2020 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics were recently published. In your view, what are the most important takeaways from that report?
The 2020 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics
revealed the highest number of registered
cases with both the ICC International Court
of Arbitration and the ICC International
Centre for ADR. Of the cases registered
in 2020, 929 cases were filed under the
ICC Rules of Arbitration, while 17 were filed
under the ICC Appointing Authority Rules.
The ICC International Centre for ADR also
saw marked growth with 77 new cases
in 2020. The registered cases were filed
under the ICC Rules of Mediation, Expert
Rules, Dispute Board Rules and DOCDEX
Rules, marking the largest number of cases
registered in a year for the Centre. This
included 45 mediations, 22 requests for
expertise, seven DOXDEX proceedings and
three Dispute Board proceedings.
The 2020 statistics that tell a particularly
compelling story of our global strength are
- Parties were from 145 countries
- There were 1008 individual arbitrators of
- ICC arbitrations were seated in 113
cities, in 65 countries
- Awards were drafted in 13 languages
- The average amount in dispute among
the 1,833 pending cases was US $145
- The average amount in dispute for new
cases filed was US $54 million
- 38% of newly registered cases involved
an amount in
2020 was marked by the start of COVID-19 global pandemic. What do you think are the most important lessons for the arbitration community that came to light as a result of the pandemic?
As we hopefully emerge out of the
pandemic, we are at a pivotal moment in
which we have the opportunity to reshape
how we work and can ensure the active
participation of all skilled practitioners,
including those with disabilities. In my
first days in office, the ICC Commission
on Arbitration and ADR, on my
recommendation, issued a global call for
interested candidates to participate in a
new Task Force on Disability Inclusion and
So, when travel resumes, I expect it will be rare for a tribunal to conduct a procedural hearing in person, and video-conferencing will be the norm.
From the pandemic, we have seen that
international arbitration can quickly
adapt and embrace new technologies
as essential tools for dispute resolution.
In the early stage of the pandemic,
ICC issued a guidance note on how
to minimize, or even avoid, potential
disruption by thoughtful use of case
management tools. These included the
use of video-conferencing, which has
now become commonplace, but also
included consideration of legal or contract
interpretation issues that may be decided
on a preliminary basis to narrow the
issues in dispute and the scope of issues
that need to be decided in an evidentiary
hearing. The guidance note is available in
multiple languages, including Chinese.
The 2021 ICC arbitration rules also made
important changes, so ICC arbitration is
even more efficient, flexible and embraces
this digitalisation. The rules make clear
that tribunals are empowered to conduct
hearings in person and remotely to take
into consideration the relevant facts and
circumstances of the case. All filings are
now electronic unless a party specifically
requests that hard copies be served.
And the presumption that meetings
and hearings will be in person has been
flipped. Before the pandemic, we assumed
evidentiary hearings would be in person
unless there were very specific reasons
for a witness or expert to testify remotely.
Now, everyone needs to consider whether
there’s a need or a strong desire to meet in
person. So, when travel resumes, I expect
it will be rare for a tribunal to conduct
a procedural hearing in person, and
video-conferencing will be the norm. For
evidentiary hearings, there will certainly
be more openness to video and hybrid
hearings, although some parties will want
to be in person for major matters.
How do you see the practice of arbitration changing in the next 10 or 20 years?
New technologies will change the
practice of arbitration. The tools available
are rapidly shifting; while some tools
create an opportunity for significant cost
savings, others require new investments.
This is a unique moment in time for the
international arbitration community to
embrace technology as an essential
tool for efficiency and be in a position to
handle the increased use of big data, block
chain technology, machine learning and
text mining. While not replacing human
judgment in the near term, predictive
justice will be an element of decision
What about the role of arbitral institutions? How do you see that evolving over time?
I expect ICC will be viewed as the one stop
shop for the dispute resolution – and
dispute avoidance – needs of global