Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
In a major international commercial arbitration, specific steps in the dispute-resolving process are reasonably well defined. First, the claimant must submit a notice of arbitration, to which the respondent answers. Depending on the relevant rules, the notice and response may include detailed pleadings. Other times the notice may be quite succinct, and written submissions constituting the pleadings will be provided at a later point. Next, the arbitrators are appointed, generally according to party agreement or pursuant to the rules the parties have chosen. Normally, some kind of organizational meeting will follow, to discuss how the arbitration will proceed. Subsequently, there may be further written submissions and pre-hearing disclosure will begin, including exchanges of documentary evidence and witness statements, all in preparation for the oral hearings.
The oral hearings may take place in one meeting that lasts several days, or in a number of multiday hearings that may occur over weeks or months. At the hearing, there may be short opening statements, followed by oral testimony, submission of documentary evidence, and perhaps legal argument on certain points, if requested by the tribunal. At the end of the hearing, there may be short closing statements, and the arbitrators may request post-hearing submissions. After the arbitrators review the post-hearing submissions, they deliberate and render a decision in the form of a final award. This is the basic process, of which there are many variations. This chapter focuses on the various elements of the arbitral proceedings, and some of the ways a tribunal may conduct the proceedings.