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Arbitrator doing the least amount of work - What are your thoughts?

In the case where an arbitrator is being compensated on a flat rate, what steps can be instituted to avoid the problem of an arbitrator who simply does the least amount of work necessary?

Please provide your thought/comments below.

Comments (4)


Hire the right arbitrator. Based on the arbitrator's experience level from her/his CV, one should be able to tell whether they are "in it for the money" or whether it is a vocation. And, if it turns out that the arbitrator was doing the bare minimum, that will usually be apparent and the parties bearing the brunt of that should spread the word.

Judge Gerald Harris:

Why would an arbitrator be expected to do more work than is “necessary “ to fairly and efficiently decide a matter?

Anonymous is on to something. There are a small number of arbitrators appointed to large, complex cases. A lazy arbitrator will soon get a poor reputation. Increased transparency initiatives such as Arbitrator Intelligence and the Arbitrator Research Tool will only enhance the ease through which reputations circulate.

David Hyland:

This is not a new issue and there is not one answer. Particularly in labor arbitration, the parties should consider a number of factors. If you are looking to retain the most experienced, well known arbitrators, they are typically very busy and some may appear to rush through a case or aggressively attempt to settle it. Remember that you are buying decades of experience. This often means the arbitrator has heard and resolved scores of cases very similar to yours. Some may view this as an efficient use of resources. Others may not appreciate it. More junior arbitrators – if they care about developing a practice – will often take more time, write more detailed decisions and refrain from suggesting settlement unless the parties indicate a desire to do so. There are always exceptions on both ends but, in general, most arbitrators are responsive to what they believe the parties expect. Whether you choose an experienced or more junior arbitrator, case preparation is essential. All will pay better attention, write better decisions and assist with better settlements if the parties demonstrate a command of facts, the contract and offer the clearest possible evidence. A well-prepared case will take less hearing time. The decision will be easier to write. Settlement options will be much clearer. The parties, much more than the arbitrator, have the power to determine how much time it will take to fully adjudicate a case. Regarding the notion that an arbitrator might be “just in it for the money”, consider this. Most career arbitrators with a fully developed practice work as many hours as a partner in a big law firm and would be far wealthier if they worked for a firm. Most go 3-5 years with practically no income when they begin their practice as a neutral and with no promise of a consistent income stream. Many will work well past what many people consider to be a normal retirement age. In my experience, these men and women – with few exceptions – do this work because they are called to it, are good at it and love it. Ultimately, advocates are well-served to share their experience among themselves and choose a neutral whose experience and style suits the parties and the case. If you think an arbitrator gives insufficient attention to cases and is not worth the per diem, choose another.

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