The Arbitration Hearings - Chapter 12 - International Arbitration Checklists - 3rd Edition
Originally from International Arbitration Checklists - 3rd Edition
Arbitration hearings may be held in a single session, or, because the factual and other issues are complex, in several hearings, perhaps with liability issues separated from damages, or with hearings divided in accordance with subject matter (fact witnesses versus expert witness, for example). How these hearings are organized and how each of them is conducted are the subject of this chapter.
The Number of Hearings
Apart from the organizational meeting at which such matters as terms of reference are discussed, hearings before the arbitrators are of critical importance for the parties and the arbitration panel. It is in these sessions that statements made in memorials and affidavits are tested by cross-examination.
Consideration should be given as to whether it is necessary or advisable for hearings to be conducted in a single block of time over a period of several days or whether the evidentiary hearings should be broken up into smaller blocks. Much depends on practices in the industry and arbitration environment and much also depends on geographical and logistical considerations. An example of fragmented hearings – as something which is not desirable but considered necessary – is the way maritime arbitrations are generally conducted in New York City, where the arbitrators are prepared only to make themselves available over lunch hours and in the evenings. Since many of these arbitrators are busy with other arbitrations, the hearings can be extended over many months. This is obviously an inefficient approach and should be avoided if possible.
Since arbitration involves fitting together the schedules of (usually) three arbitrators and lawyers for at least two contending sides, it is often necessary to set aside blocks of time far in advance to which the participants may commit themselves. Because arbitrators, such as law professors, often have firm time commitments, it is often not possible for large blocks of time to be set aside, regardless of how far in advance they might be planned. Thus, if the factual issues in the arbitration are complex, it may be necessary to separate the hearings in some logical way. An alternative – discussed below – is to take steps to shorten the periods of time in which testimony is given.