An Arbitrator's Wish - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 58, No. 2
The author, an attorney (non-practicing) and a CPA, is an arbitrator specializing in real estate and commercial disputes. He has been on the American Arbitration Association roster since 1994.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Attorneys usually do not think it is their role to make the arbitrator’s job easier. But doing so means that the arbitration will conclude more quickly and at less cost to the parties. There are numerous things that can be done that not only help the arbitrator, but also facilitate the arbitration as a whole. The author reveals his wish list for the parties’ attorneys.
What can the attorneys for the parties to an arbitration do to help the arbitrator decide their case? Put more accurately, what can they do that will make it easier for the arbitrator to gather all the key facts and render an appropriate decision?
The question is often asked by attorneys who have never participated in an arbitration as well as those who have, but have never before dealt with the arbitrator who is selected to hear the dispute. The question embodies an important principle—that the attorneys for the parties should help the arbitrator as much as possible. This article discusses the ways in which they can carry out this principle.
Treat the Arbitrator with Respect
The parties, with their attorneys, have selected an arbitrator with integrity, sound judgment, and specialized knowledge, rather than an anonymous jury or generalist judge to decide their case. They have done so presumably in order to benefit from the arbitrator’s experience arbitrating cases in the field involving the dispute. Accordingly, the attorneys should not underestimate the intelligence or abilities of the arbitrator. It is a “no-no” to talk down to the arbitrator or to belittle his or her experience or knowledge in any way. As the decision maker in the case, the arbitrator is entitled to the utmost respect. If in doubt as to whether the arbitrator understands a particular point, ask the arbitrator directly if further testimony or explanation is needed. The arbitrator should appreciate the question and the care the attorney is making to present the client’s case.
Treating the arbitrator with respect also means that everyone should be on time for pre-hearing conferences and for the hearing. The arbitrator will not appreciate having to spin wheels waiting for a latecomer.