The Camera Arbitrale di Milano (“CAM”), the leading and most prominent arbitral institution in Italy, recently issued a new set of Arbitration Rules to be applied to its arbitration proceedings. The new rules are in force as of July 1, 2020, and the most relevant and widely discussed change is indisputably the addition of Annex D, entirely dedicated to the “Simplified Arbitration Procedure.” That procedure is a new option offered by CAM regarding the conduct of arbitration proceedings, and it consists of “streamlined arbitration with reduced scales of fees” as the institution itself defines it. The aim of the simplified procedure is to reduce the length and costs of arbitration proceedings, which is a need seemingly felt worldwide in the field of commercial arbitration.
Against this backdrop, the provisions regarding the Simplified Arbitration Procedure introduced by the CAM Arbitration Rules can be summarized as follows:
- Article 1 (Scope of Application)
CAM specifies that the Simplified Arbitration Procedure is applicable to: a) “arbitrations commenced after the date on which the Procedure entered into force [which, again, is July 1, 2020], if the value of the claims filed by the Claimant does not exceed Eur. 250.000, and unless one of the parties opts-out in the request for arbitration or in the reply to the request for arbitration”; or b) “all arbitrations, regardless of the value of the claims, if the parties have agreed to opt-in in the arbitration agreement or thereafter, until the filing of the reply to the request for arbitration”.
- Articles 3 (Appointment, Confirmation, and Challenge of Arbitrators) and 5 (The proceedings)
Article 3 establishes that, regardless of the content of the arbitration agreement, the arbitral tribunal will consist of a sole arbitrator. Article 5 expressly states that the proceedings shall be conducted in an “expeditious manner, considering the simplified nature of the Procedure” and that the appointed arbitrator shall conduct the proceedings in a manner deemed appropriate for the purpose of reaching an expedited conclusion to the litigation. For this purpose, some options are specifically granted to the arbitrator (upon the parties’ approval), such as the possibility to “decide to limit the length and scope of briefs, the number of documents and the number of witness evidences, if any” and to schedule a single hearing.
- Article 6 (The Award)
The time required to conclude the proceedings is reduced by approximately half. Article 6, by way of example, provides that the final award shall be filed by the arbitrator within three months of constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal (while for ordinary proceedings the time limit is six months).
Finally, the costs related to the Simplified Arbitration Procedure are – on average – reduced by 30% as compared to the approximate costs of ordinary arbitral proceedings.
From a general standpoint, there are significant benefits for the parties in opting for simplified/expedited conduct of the arbitration, as described above. First of all, the introduction of expedited procedures represents a tangible answer to the widespread notion that arbitration, due to its high costs, is a valid alternative only for disputes in which the value of the claim is particularly high. Aside from the obvious benefits of reducing costs and the amount of time spent litigating, it should be noted that a simplified procedure allows the parties and the arbitral tribunal to focus more on the strictly relevant aspects of the dispute and, accordingly, to work in the most efficient manner.
Clearly, the parties will need to assess carefully whether their dispute lends itself to being addressed in an expedited manner and, specifically, whether they will have the opportunity to present their cases fully and properly in that context. Once they have verified that, the Simplified Arbitration Procedure offers an appealing opportunity to reach more swiftly a resolution to the dispute that is consistent with the scope of commercial arbitration itself, with the parties’ intentions, and with best practices developing on an international level.
 By way of example, the arbitral institutions that introduced a simplified procedure for the conduct of their arbitration proceedings include the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”), which since 2017 has offered the “Expedited Procedure Rules” contained in Appendix VI to its “Arbitration Rules”; the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“SCC”), which in 2017 introduced its “Expedited Arbitration Rules”; the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (“VIAC”), whose Rules of Arbitration and Mediation, in force as of January 1, 2018, include in Section 45 regulations for “Expedited Proceedings”.
 A more detailed analysis of the CAM Simplified Arbitration Provision is publicly available here: https://www.camera-arbitrale.it/upload/documenti/arbitrato/ARBITRATION%20RULES%202020.pdf.