STREAMLINING ARBITRATION OF THE COMPLEX CASE - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 55, No. 3
The author serves on the American Arbitration Association’s Large, Complex Case Panel and on its Greater New York Advisory Council for Large Complex Cases. He is of counsel at Fulton, Rowe, Hart & Coon in New York City.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
As increasing numbers of complex commercial disputes are submitted to arbitration, it becomes imperative that the handling of such cases be cost-effective and expeditious while at the same time achieve a fair and complete hearing that will inspire confidence in the process. What steps should be taken to ensure this? The effective management of complex disputes, says John Wilkinson, is a progression that should commence at the first prehearing conference and continue through to the submission of post-hearing briefs.
The primary reason for the mushrooming popularity of arbitration for large cases is that business managers and their general counsel have increasingly recognized that this form of dispute resolution provides a faster, more cost-effective result than litigation. And, perhaps most importantly, it provides a result that is at least as fair as a decision by an impartial jury or judge.
While these benefits are achieved in the great majority of complex arbitrations, they must never be assumed or taken for granted since effective case management is invariably required for an arbitration to be as brief as possible while affording a fair hearing to both sides. In assessing whether an arbitration of a complex dispute has been effectively managed, one must consider a number of important factors, in addition to counting the number of hearing days, since hearings in complex cases are necessarily quite extensive—even when handled in the most cost-effective way possible.
Arbitrators who serve on the AAA’s newly qualified roster of neutrals, and have undergone its recently enhanced arbitrator-training program, are well equipped to achieve a cost-effective, fair result in a complex commercial dispute. Still, arbitrators can and should strive to improve the process. This article suggests some specific approaches that can shorten the arbitration process in certain circumstances without sacrificing fairness.