What is the role of an arbitrator?

An arbitrator is, effectively, a judge chosen by the parties to decide issues agreed upon by the parties.  Typically, the arbitrator’s decision is final and no appeal is permitted.  The powers, duties and jurisdiction of arbitrators differ from a civil court judge who derives  authority from the state.

What authority does an arbitrator have?

The parties choose an arbitrator to hear their case so they must give arbitrators the authority to do so. The powers of an arbitrator originate from the agreement of the parties subject to the limits provided by the applicable law.  Such powers also include any additional powers that may be conferred by operation of law

The parties may directly agree in their arbitration agreement upon the powers they wish the arbitrator to exercise; an indirect conferment of powers takes place when the arbitration is conducted according to institutional rules of arbitration.  After being incorporated into the arbitration agreement or the arbitration clause, these rules then become the part of the agreement of the parties. These rules confer certain express powers upon the arbitrator.

What do I bring to the process?

Prior to becoming an arbitrator, I served as an advocate in scores of arbitrations and oversaw literally hundreds of others.  I have worked with many stellar arbitrators and some at the other end of the spectrum.  I know what I expect of a good arbitrator and have talked to many advocates about what makes a good arbitrator and possess the following skills and experience that make me effective in this role:

  • Experience running an arbitration hearing;
  • Excellent listening, analytic, and reasoning skills;
  • Broad and deep legal knowledge and experience;
  • Outstanding writing ability;
  • The intellectual capacity and curiosity to quickly absorb complex matters; and
  • The ability to cast aside personal biases and decide a case on its merits

What do I expect from the parties?

Litigation styles, skills and strategy that are effective for a civil action in court will generally be effective in arbitration, too.   Arbitration is, however, different and an advocate’s approach must be altered accordingly.  Below are some of the important areas of focus:

  • Identify the Applicable Rules
  • Identify Witnesses and Evidence Early
  • Select the Right Arbitrator(s)
  • Plan Early for Discovery
  • Prepare for the Initial Pre-hearing Conference
  • Attempt to agree with opposing counsel on a Scheduling and Procedures Order
  • Modify trial presentation approach as necessary to most effectively and expeditiously present your case.

What is my commitment to the parties?

I will work tirelessly to provide the parties an effective forum for resolving their dispute.  My work begins the moment I am hired or appointed to a case.  In every case, I strive to:

  • Understand the issues involved;
  • Establish realistic procedural rules and timetables;
  • Be respectful of the parties but retain control of the process;
  • Read everything submitted to me carefully:
  • Allow the advocates to present their respective cases, remaining mindful that arbitration is supposed to be expeditious; and
  • Issue clear, well-reasoned, timely awards.