What Kind of Questions Should Arbitrators Ask? - Chapter 15 - AAA Handbook on Commercial Arbitration, Third Edition
Sharon T. Nelson
Sharon T. Nelson is a full-time Arbitrator and Mediator and former Judge, who is on the mediation/arbitration panels of the American Arbitration Association, the NASD, the IRS, the District of Columbia Superior Court, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
As an arbitrator, you have been astutely watching the parties put forth their case before you. The witness slowly responds to the party’s question. You immediately feel an urge to ask a particular question. What do you do? How do you do it? When do you do it? These are important and universal considerations.
II.Why Do We Ask Questions?
The first step in determining the appropriateness of asking a question as a panelist is to decide the motivation for the question. While we may have more than one reason for asking a question, the reasons break down into one of the following eight categories.
A. Failure to Hear
Probably the most asked category of questions during an arbitration is a variation of “Please repeat that?” Failure to hear is caused either by the sender’s voice or the receiver missing it (by being distracted or having a hearing problem). This problem occurs at most hearings.