How to Draft an Arbitration Award Efficiently?

Drafting arbitration awards can be tricky because there is no standard way to do it. Although there are efforts to present best practices to draft an arbitration award, different arbitrators still employ different approaches that fit their needs.

Since award drafting can come down to personal preference, we asked expert international commercial arbitrator, Ben Giaretta, what he does in order to draft arbitration awards efficiently — and here’s his answer.

Take control of the structure

Ben’s first advice is to approach award drafting as a creative process. “It’s tempting to sit back, be passive, and follow the structure of an award that is either presented in a template or is implied by the structure of the parties’ written submissions,” Ben says. But that may lead you to write an award that does not fit the circumstances of the case or that does not explain things clearly to a reader. 

It’s better to think carefully at the outset about what the best way is to approach the award and to produce a document that is easy to read. Taking control in this way, and being actively engaged in the drafting, not only makes the process easier but also makes it a more personally rewarding experience. 

Phrase issues as questions

As a more technical tip, Ben advises having a comprehensive list of issues in the award, which should be phrased as questions to be answered later in the award. This helps make the drafting easier because it means the analysis section of the award is properly organised. 

Ben also says that it would be best to formulate these questions early on in the arbitration, with the input of the parties, since this will give a roadmap to the arbitration and encourage the parties to address the questions in their submissions – which will in turn make the arbitrator’s life easier when they write the award.

Start early

[Award drafting] is not something that should be left to the last minute” Ben says. Since an arbitrator has to give the history of the case in the award, and organize the arguments and evidence, and prepare a thorough analysis of all of these, writing an award at the last minute can be very difficult.

Writing the award as the arbitration proceeds is an excellent way to reduce this burden. In particular, you can record the history of the case in a draft award as you go along. You can also spread out the award writing over a period of time, coming back to the draft again and again to improve it as the case goes on. This tip resonates with one of Jur’s 10 GUIDELINES to become a modern arbitrator wherein we mention how to establish a complete record to effectively run a proceeding.

Done right, writing an award can be an enjoyable process for the arbitrators. With these 3 tips, Jur hopes that modern arbitrators will have a better experience in award drafting, which in turn should help people get access to justice quickly.

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