How to prepare for arbitration

Region: Ontario Answer # 497

Preparing for arbitration should be done in much the same way as a lawyer would prepare to take a case to court. While the atmosphere, rules, procedures and evidence may be somewhat more relaxed in an arbitration, it is best to prepare as if you had to meet the stringent requirements that would be imposed in a court of law.

A disputant or party may wish to consult a lawyer for advice as to how to prepare. Often a party hires and is represented by a lawyer during the entire arbitration.

While representing yourself in an arbitration may not be a good idea, here are five important matters that you will want to consider:

  1. Determine, specifically, what the question or issue is that is being brought to the arbitrator. Reference has to be made to the arbitration agreement and any related agreements.
  2. Who will be called as witnesses during the arbitration? The question here is whether the agreed upon arbitration permits witnesses to be heard under oath during the arbitration, or whether they will be required to swear affidavits that will set out their story. Help the witnesses to prepare, by perhaps asking them to give you a brief written account of their perspective. The witnesses should be told that they will be cross-examined by the other party.
  3. If you call witnesses, the other side may also call witnesses. Be prepared to cross-examine the other witnesses.
  4. What law or legal precedent exists that will help to make the point you want to make and to get the result you desire?
  5. Assume you will have an opportunity to make an opening statement and submissions at the end. Prepare a general outline in advance. You may wish to have a series of “open ended” sentence fragments. For example, for an opening statement, you may wish to have these as helper introductions: “It is my submission that,” or, “I shall call witnesses who will make these points…,” and for your concluding submissions, you may wish to have sentence fragments such as “I wish to summarize and highlight the point made by the first witness…,” or ” There is a decided case which is very similar to this one in that…”

For legal assistance with an arbitration, you should contact a lawyer.


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