Improving Arbitration Through Technology: A Quest for Basic Principles - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 62, No. 3
Thomas D. Halket is a partner in Halket Weitz LLP in New York and an adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law. An experienced arbitrator and mediator, he chairs the American Arbitration Association’s Technology Advisory Committee and is a member of the AAA’s commercial, large complex technology and IP and international panels. He also serves on the panels of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution and the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute, a Member of the London Court of International Arbitration and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators. This article has been adapted from the author’s previously published article, “The Use of Technology in Arbitration: Ensuring the Future Is Available to Both Parties,” 81 St. Johns L. Rev. 269 (2007).
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Arbitration’s advantages over court litigation historically have focused on its potential speed and cost savings. Yet, these benefits can, and often do, disappear as cases have become larger and more complex and involve more parties. Nevertheless, this does not mean that nothing can be done to increase the efficiency of the arbitral process, even for the larger, more complex disputes. Some improvements—for example, encouraging arbitrators to exert more control over the process—are controversial; others—such as the exercise by the parties of reasonable discretion in any discovery mechanisms they employ in the arbitration—much less so. The approach to increasing arbitral efficiency discussed in this article—the use of technology (or technological aids—these terms will be used interchangeably in this article to mean information and communication technologies, such as email, the Internet, computerized document processing, video conferencing, and the like)—falls somewhere in between.
The use of technology can decrease the cost and increase the speed of and otherwise aid in the arbitral process. But its use is not without issue; it must be done in a way that is fair to both parties, while maintaining their expectations about the process. Fairness in the availability of a technical aid to both parties, however, is not a given. Of course, because the parties have almost unlimited ability to agree on the procedures to be used in their arbitration, they can agree on the use of various technological aids to facilitate their process.2 The more complicated situation, and the topic of this article, is where at least one party objects to the use of the aid. When all parties do not agree to the use of an aid, fairness concerns arise because access to the aid could be an issue. For example, a party may not have high-speed access to the Internet available to it where it is located, Internet access may be restricted by its government, or the size of emails may be limited.