A dispute board is a standing body typically set up upon the signature or commencement of performance of a mid- or long-term contract, to help the parties avoid or overcome any disagreements or disputes that arise during the implementation of the contract. Commonly used in construction projects, dispute boards are also found in other areas including research and development, intellectual property, production sharing and shareholder agreements. The ICC Dispute Board Rules consist of a comprehensive set of provisions for establishing and operating a dispute board. They cover such matters as the appointment of the dispute board member(s), the services they provide and the compensation they receive. Since their introduction in 2004, these Rules have been used widely used throughout the world. After ten years, a revision was undertaken to attune them to modern practice and requirements. This booklet contains the result of that revision – the 2015 Rules.

One of the principal innovations of the 2015 Rules is to spell out the three basic functions of dispute boards, so as to emphasize the importance of informal as well as formal approaches to disputes. Now, the Rules explicitly provide that, upon perceiving a potential disagreement, the dispute board may (1) encourage the parties to overcome it on their own. If this is impossible or the disagreement too entrenched, the dispute board can (2) intervene with informal assistance to help the parties resolve the matter by agreement or (3) determine a dispute through a recommendation or a decision issued after a procedure of formal referral. Each of these functions is of equal value in helping to reduce the risk and cost of disruption to the parties’ contract.

The 2015 Rules continue to give parties a choice between three different types of dispute board, each distinguished by the type of conclusion it issues upon a formal referral. Dispute Adjudication Boards (DAB) issue decisions, which must be complied with immediately. Dispute Review Boards (DRB), on the other hand, issue recommendations, which are not immediately binding on the parties but become so if no party objects within 30 days. Combined Dispute Boards (CDB) offer an intermediate solution between the DRB and the DAB: they normally issue recommendations but may issue decisions if a party so requests and no other party objects, or the dispute board so decides on the basis of criteria set out in the Rules. The 2015 Rules have strengthened the obligation to comply with recommendations and decisions, when so required, by disallowing objections on the merits as a defence to non-compliance and through explicit use of the terms "final" and "binding".

In 2018, ICC has been selected by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) as the trusted dispute settlement body to decide challenges filed against its Dispute Adjudication/ Avoidance Boards (DAAB) Member(s). The new challenge procedure in accordance with Rule 11 of the 2017 FIDIC DAAB Procedural Rules is set forth in Appendix III to the ICC Dispute Board Rules. This new development is the result of the collaborative efforts of ICC and FIDIC over the years. It is also a recognition of ICC’s extensive knowledge of the construction and engineering sectors, and ICC’s vast and long-lasting experience in the management of challenge procedures.

The ICC Dispute Board Rules may be applied without recourse to the ICC. However, the ICC proposes a number of administrative services to facilitate their application. These include appointing dispute board members, deciding on challenges against them, determining their fees, and reviewing dispute board decisions. These services are provided exclusively by the ICC International Centre for ADR under the conditions set out in the Rules.

Parties wishing to use the ICC Dispute Board Rules are advised to include an appropriate clause in their contract. For this purpose, three standard clauses, providing respectively for each of the three types of dispute board, can be found at the start of this booklet. At the end of the booklet there is also a model dispute board member agreement, covering such matters as the dispute board member’s undertaking and remuneration and the duration of the agreement. All of these documents and translations thereof can be downloaded from the ICC website.