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The Role of the Arbitrator, If Any, Prior to the Hearing – a Panel Discussion

The panelists agree that an arbitrator can facilitate pre-hearing matters, such as the production of documents, definition of the issues, and exploring settlement. However, they also agree that the arbitrator should be circumspect, given his/her lack of knowledge of the case, and should conduct any such efforts openly, and with attention given to due process.

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The author discusses how he, as a management attorney, likes to have four factors addressed prior to the hearing: 1. discovery, 2. issue framing including remedy, 3. joinder or exclusion of related issues pending in other forums, and 4. related problems involving arbitrability.

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Brief comment on practices and pitfalls in use of court reporters, followed by a discussion of unrelated topics: postponements and cancellations; fee collection; extensions of time limits; misunderstandings; pre-hearing procedures; conflicts between duty to the parties and obligation to maintain the integrity of the process; reluctant witnesses; and issues arising out of assignment of unit …

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Discussion of procedural questions in arbitration regarding pre-hearing statements or briefs, pre-hearing conferences, and discovery. Emphasizes the needs to avoid undue formalism and legalisms and to streamline the process. Suggests interrogatories, inspection of documents, and stipulations are more useful than depositions in arbitration. Briefly discusses jurisdictional disputes where only one of the involved unions is …

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