This is the second part of a "Nuts and Bolts of Arbitration" article regarding the arbitration process. This piece picks up after the arbitrator's appointment and follows to the end of the arbitration and post-award motions. By understanding arbitration and the ways it may differ from court-based litigation, counsel and clients can make their arbitration an efficient and economical way of resolving the client's commercial dispute.
The Preliminary Hearing
After the arbitrator is appointed (for this article, we assume a sole arbitrator presides), he or she may convene a preliminary hearing. See Am. Arbitration Ass'n (AAA) Commercial Arbitration Rule R-21 (2013); Int'l Inst. for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR) Rule for Administered Arbitration of Int'l Disputes 9.3 (2014); JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rule 16 (2014). While preliminary hearings are within the arbitrator's discretion (note that, under JAMS Rule 16, a party also may request a preliminary hearing), arbitrators usually hold preliminary hearings in all but the smallest and most straightforward commercial cases. The preliminary hearing often takes place telephonically, but it can be held in person if the parties or arbitrator prefers.