Chapter 6 - Getting Started - Handbook on International Commercial Arbitration - Second Edition
A. Preliminaries to Getting Started
International commercial arbitration is an established method of dispute resolution in the international business community. To those involved with such arbitrations on a regular basis, there are established methods of working within the broad flexibility of the various institutional rules and still more so in ad hoc arbitrations. To the novice, it might appear that there are nuances and procedures that are obscure and opaque.
In practice, although not an area the uninitiated should venture without proper research and representation, the international arbitration community is both friendly and supportive. Although arbitrators are not there to protect parties from themselves, they will usually seek to steer the novice in the right direction.
When presented with a dispute, there are a number of preliminary matters such as the identification of the proper law and the seat of the arbitration that must be addressed from the outset.
B. The Request, Answer and Terms of Reference
All of the major institutional rules provide for an international commercial arbitration to be initiated by filing a request for arbitration with the institution.1 The form and content of the request will naturally vary from institution to institution but the broad outline and substantive content is fairly uniform. Clearly, regard must be had to the precise rules and requirements. Counsel from a civil law jurisdiction tend to draft a more comprehensive request whereas those from a common law jurisdiction tend to draft more perfunctory requests.
The request, together with the appropriate number of copies, is sent to the institution and, for some institutions, a copy must be sent simultaneously to all other parties. Invariably, a fee must be sent with the request.