Managing Discovery in International Arbitration - Chapter 12 - ICDR Handbook on International Arbitration Practice - Second Edition
Originally from the ICDR Handbook on International Arbitration Practice - Second Edition
In business as in life, crossing a border could mean risks that are largely unforeseen. It is fortunate that in the business world, there is a safety net in the form of arbitration to reduce such risks. Over the years, arbitration has proven to be particularly effective in resolving cross-border disputes, which by definition involve parties and lawyers who speak different languages and who come from different cultures and different juristic traditions. The possibility of mutual misunderstanding, confusion, and cultural clashes are significant, especially where the lawyers for one or both parties are not experienced in international commercial arbitration.
Many lawyers make the assumption that arbitration is just litigation in another forum, and so any firm with an experienced litigation department can represent a client in arbitration. This is a particularly dangerous assumption in international commercial arbitration. A law firm with a large domestic litigation practice but without experience in international commercial arbitration is likely to conduct the arbitration as if it were litigation and this might have a significant negative impact both on the procedural development of the arbitration and on its substantive outcome.
The areas where international commercial arbitration practice might differ substantially from domestic litigation, particularly common law litigation, include the style and content of pleadings, the probative value of documents versus oral testimony, disclosure of documents, the development of proof and arguments through sequential written submissions rather than at an oral hearing, the relevance of rules of evidence, and the relationship and mutual expectations of counsel and the arbitral tribunal.