What Kind Of Questions Should Arbitrators Ask? - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 54, No. 1
Sharon T. Nelson
The author 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.
An arbitrator is generally perceived as an impartial observer, and asking questions is not considered to be part of the job. There are, however, certain instances where questions from an arbitrator can greatly aid the ADR process. Here is a simple roadmap of questioning protocol.
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. The first step in determining the appropriateness of asking a question as a panelist is to decide the motivation for the question.