Establishing Procedures for Arbitration

Corporate Practice - SS LAW CODES

Establishing clear and effective procedures is essential for ensuring the efficient, fair, and orderly resolution of disputes. From setting the procedural timetable to maintaining confidentiality and adhering to rules of evidence, the procedural framework plays a pivotal role in guiding arbitration proceedings. In this article, we explore the key aspects of establishing procedures for arbitration, with a special focus on the ICC Terms of Reference, amendments to the procedural timetable, confidentiality, and rules of evidence.

Establishing the Procedural Timetable and Conduct of Arbitration:

The procedural timetable serves as a roadmap for guiding arbitration proceedings, ensuring that the process moves forward smoothly and efficiently. Establishing the procedural timetable involves several key steps:

  • Initial Conference: At the outset of arbitration, parties typically convene an initial conference to discuss procedural matters. This conference provides an opportunity for parties to outline their positions, identify key issues, and establish a framework for the arbitration process.
  • Timetable Development: Following the initial conference, the tribunal, in consultation with the parties, develops a procedural timetable outlining the key milestones, deadlines, and procedural steps to be followed throughout the arbitration. This timetable may include deadlines for the submission of pleadings, exchange of evidence, and scheduling of hearings.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: While the procedural timetable provides a framework for arbitration, it should also be flexible and adaptable to accommodate changes in circumstances or unforeseen developments. Parties and the tribunal may need to adjust timelines or procedures as the arbitration progresses to ensure fairness and efficiency.
  • Case Management: Throughout the arbitration process, the tribunal plays a crucial role in managing the case, overseeing compliance with the procedural timetable, resolving procedural disputes, and ensuring that proceedings are conducted under agreed-upon rules and timelines.

 

ICC Terms of Reference:

In arbitrations administered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Terms of Reference serve as a foundational document that outlines the scope of the dispute and the procedural framework for arbitration. Key features of the ICC Terms of Reference include:

  • Scope of Dispute: The Terms of Reference define the scope of the dispute, including the claims and defenses raised by the parties. This document provides a clear understanding of the issues in contention and helps focus the tribunal’s attention on resolving the dispute.
  • Agreed Facts and Issues: Parties may use the Terms of Reference to identify and agree on certain facts and legal issues, streamlining the arbitration process and facilitating a more efficient resolution of the dispute.
  • Procedural Framework: The Terms of Reference may incorporate procedural rules and guidelines for conducting arbitration, including timelines for submissions, procedures for evidence exchange, and rules governing the conduct of hearings. This document serves as a roadmap for guiding the arbitration process and ensuring consistency and predictability in proceedings.

 

Amendments to the Procedural Timetable:

Flexibility is a hallmark of arbitration, and parties may need to amend the procedural timetable to accommodate changing circumstances or unforeseen developments. Amendments to the procedural timetable may occur due to:

  • Changed Circumstances: Parties may seek amendments to the procedural timetable due to changes in the scope of the dispute, availability of evidence, or other relevant factors that impact the progress of arbitration.
  • Mutual Agreement: Amendments to the procedural timetable generally require mutual agreement between the parties. Parties may negotiate changes to timelines or procedures based on their evolving needs and priorities.
  • Tribunal Discretion: The tribunal retains discretion to approve amendments to the procedural timetable, taking into account the interests of both parties and the need for a fair and efficient resolution of the dispute. The tribunal may consider factors such as the impact of the proposed amendments on the overall progress of arbitration, the principle of procedural fairness, and the parties’ respective interests.

 

Confidentiality:

Confidentiality is a fundamental principle of arbitration, allowing parties to protect sensitive information and maintain privacy throughout the proceedings. Key considerations for confidentiality include:

  • Confidentiality Agreement: Parties may enter into a confidentiality agreement or include confidentiality provisions in the arbitration agreement, outlining the parties’ obligations regarding the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings and awards. These provisions may specify the types of information that are subject to confidentiality, exceptions to confidentiality obligations, and procedures for handling confidential information.
  • Arbitrator Duties: Arbitrators are bound by duties of confidentiality, prohibiting them from disclosing confidential information obtained during the arbitration process, unless authorized by the parties or required by law. Arbitrators must maintain the confidentiality of proceedings and exercise discretion in handling confidential information to protect parties’ interests.
  • Institutional Rules: Arbitration institutions such as the ICC often include provisions for confidentiality in their rules and guidelines, providing additional assurance to parties regarding the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings. These rules may address issues such as the disclosure of arbitration awards, access to arbitration records, and the confidentiality of arbitration hearings.

 

Rules of Evidence:

While arbitration is generally less formal than litigation, parties must adhere to rules of evidence to ensure fairness and reliability in the arbitration process. Key principles governing the rules of evidence include:

  • Relevance and Admissibility: Evidence must be relevant to the issues in dispute and admissible under applicable law or procedural rules to be considered by the tribunal. Parties must present evidence that is material to their claims or defenses and supported by appropriate documentation or testimony.
  • The burden of Proof: The burden of proof rests with the party asserting a claim or defense, requiring them to present sufficient evidence to support their position. Parties must satisfy the tribunal that their claims or defenses are supported by credible evidence and legal arguments.
  • Hearsay and Documentary Evidence: Arbitrators may consider hearsay evidence and documentary evidence, subject to authentication and reliability, in evaluating the merits of the parties’ arguments. Parties must ensure that documentary evidence is properly authenticated and relevant to the issues in dispute.
  • Expert Testimony: Parties may present expert testimony to assist the tribunal in understanding complex technical or scientific issues relevant to the dispute, provided that the expert is qualified and their testimony is reliable. The tribunal evaluates expert testimony based on its relevance, reliability, and conformity with established principles of expert evidence.

Conclusion

Establishing effective procedures for arbitration requires careful consideration of the procedural timetable, ICC Terms of Reference, amendments to the timetable, confidentiality, and rules of evidence. By adopting clear and comprehensive procedural frameworks, parties can navigate arbitration proceedings with confidence, ensuring a fair, efficient, and enforceable resolution of their disputes.

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