Arbitrators’ goals in managing the prehearing process are (1) to work with counsel in devising fair and efficient procedures for the prehearing and hearing phases of the arbitration, (2) to monitor the parties’ compliance with those procedures, and (3) to resolve promptly any disputes or problems that might delay the arbitration.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF PREHEARING MANAGEMENT
From the time of appointment to the commencement of the hearing, arbitrators should take an active, hands-on approach to managing the prehearing process by working with counsel to establish and implement fair and efficient procedures and schedules that are appropriate to the particular case.
Like most things in life, getting an arbitration off on the right foot and keeping it on track are critical to a successful process. Although responsibility for managing arbitrations falls squarely on arbitrators, they should not attempt to perform this task without assistance. Counsel, who know far more about the case than the arbitrators and often have considerable arbitration experience and insight, are essential partners in the undertaking. From their first contact with counsel, arbitrators should set a tone of professionalism, cooperation, and mutual respect. They should make clear that although the ultimate responsibility (and authority) for managing the arbitration rests with them, they intend to work with counsel in developing a process appropriate to the particular case and in turn, expect counsel to act cooperatively and professionally with the arbitrators and each other.