Do unto others....running arbitrations considerately
As arbitrators we are in a unique and very privileged position to be able to influence how arbitrations are conducted. By our demeanour at the hearing we can influence the way counsel argue their cases, by making a decision to ask for electronic and not hard copies we can make a point about environmentally conscious behaviour. We can also play our part in making our stressed counsel’s lives easier, and that is by not sending emails at unsocial hours or on weekends.
I was fortunate to sit next to a highly experienced arbitration counsel on the plane back from a conference recently. They were married to another senior arbitration counsel and had two small children. As we talked about the challenges that I know so well, that of juggling two careers and children, it dawned on me that as an arbitrator, I needed to think before I sent a communication to the parties at an unsocial time. Just as senior partners need to think before placing unnecessary demands on their associates, and clients need to take a moment to consider whether they absolutely must have that conference call over a weekend, we as arbitrators can do our bit by getting that message out during the working day.
In a similar vein, it only takes a moment in a hearing to check whether anyone has child care issues if the hearing runs late. By checking we are acknowledging the dedication that those participating in international arbitrations constantly show us and demonstrating that we can empathize with where they are, as we were once there too.