Typical Steps in Arbitration
The process of arbitration differs among cases. The following is a list of the main steps in arbitration, however, it should not be viewed as an exhaustive list.
- Initiating the Arbitration – A request by one party for a dispute to be referred to arbitration.
- Appointment of Arbitrator – Arbitrators may be appointed by one of three ways: (1) Directly by the disputing parties, (2) By existing tribunal members (For example, each, each side appoints one arbitrator and then the arbitrators appoint a third), (3) By an external party (For example, the court or an individual or institution nominated by the parties).
- Preliminary Meeting – It is a good idea to have a meeting between the arbitrator and the parties, along with their legal counsel, to look over the dispute in question and discuss an appropriate process and timetable.
- Statement of Claim and Response –The claimant sets out a summary of the matters in dispute and the remedy sought in a statement of claim. This is needed to inform the respondent of what needs to be answered. It summarizes the alleged facts but does not include the evidence through which facts are to be proved. The statement of response from the respondent is to admit or deny the claims. There may also be a counterclaim by the respondent, which in turn requires a reply from the claimant. These statements are called the ‘pleadings’. Their purpose is to identify the issues and avoid surprises.
- Discovery and Inspection – These are legal procedures through which the parties investigate background information. Each party is required to list all relevant documents, which are in their control. This is called ‘discovery’. Parties then ‘inspect’ the discovered documents and an agreed-upon selection of documents are prepared for the arbitrator.
- Interchange of Evidence – The written evidence is exchanged and given to the arbitrator for review before the hearing.
- Hearing –The hearing is a meeting in which the arbitrator listens to any oral statements, questioning of witnesses and can ask for clarification of any information. Both parties are entitled to put forward their case and be present while the other side states theirs. A hearing may be avoided, however, if the issues can be dealt with entirely from the documents.
- Legal Submissions – The lawyers of both parties provide the arbitrator with a summary of their evidence and applicable laws. These submissions are made either orally at the hearing or put in writing as soon as the hearing ends.
- Award –The arbitrator considers all the information and makes a decision. An award is written to summarize the proceedings and give the decisions. The award usually includes the arbitrator’s reasons for the decision.