Experienced practitioners in international arbitration often exchange war stories as to their recollection of how a particular case where they had sat as tribunal or where they had acted as Counsel had been affected by effective cross-examination. One sometimes hears of stories whereby an entire case has collapsed because of the fact that the key witness had succumbed to skilful cross-examination by opposing Counsel. The art of cross-examination in fact forms a very important component of the interlocking threads of general advocacy skills. The skill of a Counsel in seeking to put across his case to the arbitral tribunal by way of nullifying or attacking the case theory and credibility of the opposing witness can be vitally essential in seeking to swing the pendulum of victory in his client’s favor.
Leaving aside an impeccable knowledge of the law, a successful cross-examinerwill need to have a combination of skills which will include good preparation; forceful but pleasant presentation; practice; graceful decorum; the ability to control a witness and most importantly, the ability to read and effectively communicate his intentions to the arbitral tribunal. An advocate that does not have the last skill will be at a severe disadvantage to one who is able to effortlessly make his case look like the more probable and believable event.