I AM NEGOTIATING A CONTRACT AND THE OTHER SIDE IS PROPOSING TO INCLUDE AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE?
The first thing to realize is that this is a positive sign. If there are ever disputes, you can resolve them efficiently through arbitration and hopefully remain on good terms. An arbitration clause is an important element of your agreement. It will determine what the arbitration will be like, when and where you can arbitrate, and it may even help you prevent disagreements from getting out of hand and growing into real disputes. You should also have a say in drafting the arbitration clause. Often, parties propose to include a standard arbitration clause. However, your agreement is far too important for a boiler-plate arbitration clause. Just like you would consult a tax specialist if tax were an issue, in most cases it is wise to consult with an experienced arbitration lawyer to tailor the arbitration clause to your expected needs. Obtaining such advice is relatively inexpensive and may ultimately save you significant money in the long run.
I HAVE BEEN SUED IN A COURT, EVEN THOUGH WE HAD AGREED TO ARBITRATE AND/OR MY CONTRACT HAS AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE?
This happens sometimes, when an opponent tries to escape from the agreement to arbitrate. What needs to be done depends on the particular situation, your arbitration clause, and timing. You need the help of an experienced arbitration lawyer to force your opponent to drop the lawsuit and to submit to arbitration as agreed. In some cases, it is even possible to avoid the dispute altogether at this early stage through careful negotiations or mediation. Time is of the essence in such a situation, so you should not delay seeking advice.
I RECEIVED A DEMAND FOR ARBITRATION
Your time to respond is limited and any failure to do so in an appropriate manner will seriously harm your position. You should consult with an experienced arbitration lawyer immediately.
WE ARE INVOLVED IN AN ARBITRATION AND ARE BEING ASSISTED BY OUR REGULAR OUTSIDE COUNSEL WHO, WHILE AN OTHERWISE EXCELLENT LAWYER, SEEMS NOT TO BE ENTIRELY FAMILIAR WITH WHAT IS GOING ON OR HOW TO HANDLE THE SITUATION?
This can happen. Arbitration is a very specific field and lawyers may have done some arbitration work, but that is often not enough – and most lawyers, no matter how good or experienced otherwise, usually have no experience with international arbitrations whatsoever. Your regular outside counsel may also not have experience with a number of other things that play an important role in international arbitrations, such as cross-examination (simply because he or she comes from a country or legal culture where that does not exist, as it does in the United States). Moreover, it may also be the case that your opponent is being represented by experienced arbitration counsel. There is no reason why you should not have the best lawyers you can get to represent your interests. Experienced arbitration lawyers are accustomed to working together with regular outside counsel – and, of course, with in-house counsel. Contact us, and after an initial consultation, you will find that cooperation is smooth and – most importantly - provides an effective way to best defend your interests.
I AM A LAWYER AND MY CLIENT IS INVOLVED IN AN ARBITRATION BUT I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE WITH IT, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Arbitration is a complex area and not something you want to learn about last-minute while under the gun because your relationship with your client is simply too important for that and to expend your energies to do so is simply not necessary. Often the best sign of a good lawyer is to know when to ask for help. Your client will see this as a sign of confidence and good judgment, and will ultimately be grateful to you for it. After all, clients rely on your advice and seek your help with many issues that may not be within your expertise. Rather than them having to go out into the world to seek help themselves, you helping them and guiding the process is universally appreciated by clients. And even if you are not an arbitration lawyer, you have an important and significant role to play during the arbitration and the preparation leading up to it. You know the client well, and as experienced arbitration lawyers we value your continuous involvement. We work closely with you as regular outside counsel, and you will become an integral part of the arbitration team. That way, the client can have the best of both worlds. And after all is said and done, the "credit" for having handled "the situation" will be yours.