Julie Bédard is counsel in the International Litigation and Arbitration Group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York. She holds a doctorate degree in conflict of laws. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and are not the views of her firm or the firm’s clients.
The global recession clearly has had a sobering impact on international arbitration. This impact can be met with practical suggestions for saving precious client resources. This article suggests how the proverbial flexibility of arbitration can be used to achieve concrete improvements in the process that will save time and costs.
Flexibility is often perceived as one of the key advantages of international arbitration over litigation, potentially providing a speedier and cheaper dispute resolution process. The expenses parties incur in preparing for arbitration and then presenting their case make up the lion’s share of arbitration costs. Therefore, solutions to managing time and costs in arbitration should address these aspects of the arbitration process. This article provides cost-saving suggestions that revolve around three ideas: empower the parties to negotiate or mediate, give the arbitrators the power to proactively manage the arbitration, and, when a dispute arises, act early to assess the case. Some of these suggestions, perhaps more than one might think, may apply to arbitrations where the parties intend to leave no stone unturned in “bet-the-company” and other high-stakes disputes.