Saturday, February 8, 2014


So you are a principal of an important case.  You feel confident that your side will prevail, since you think you have the best evidence and most credible witnesses.

One of the next decisions that need to be made, unless it already has been made in the pre-dispute contract, is how many arbitrators should be on the panel.

Generally, on small cases, perhaps under $50,000 claimed, a single arbitrator is sufficient.  The cost for a larger panel escalates quickly, particularly if transportation costs are involved.  Most such cases can be resolved in a day or so which also keeps costs down.

Yet, if the claims in the case are $1,000,000 or more, then the stakes are that much higher, and it can be useful or prudent to have a larger panel, usually three, to make sure that the issues are given full consideration.  In those cases, the ancillary costs including transportation and administration will be proportionally small.

For a three-person panel in a case involving technology, I strongly recommend that at least one of the arbitrators be technologically-knowledgeable.  He or she can then advise the other panel members when matters arise that are outside their experience.  You can check out my relevant background here.
Another possibility is that the arbitration clause calls for two arbitrators, where they appoint a third.  I don't have any personal experience with this arrangement, but it seems to me that whenever the parties appoint their "own" arbitrator, already the neutrality of the process is compromised.  

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