The Anatomy of a net-ARB Hearing
An arbitration hearing is more relaxed and less formal than a courtroom trail, but still needs to have a predictable structure so that the parties know what to expect. We have
designed a simple yet highly effective hearing method, designed so that parties can represent themselves efficiently and to provide our arbitrators with the best way to learn about your case. To do that, we break the hearing up into 4 parts we call "phases".
Phase 1 - the opening statement,
Phase 2 - questions from the arbitrator,
Phase 3 - all additional testimony and evidence, and
Phase 4 - the closing argument.
Think of presenting your case in the same manner you might write an article for a magazine. First you research your subject before you start writing. When you do start writing, you need an introduction that gives the reader a sense of what's to come. You don't want to start throwing facts and details at the reader before you have given him or her a solid framework (a clear picture in the mind) so that the facts and details are understood in context.
The same is true for a good opening statement. The best opening statements have few if any details, focusing instead on painting a clear picture in the arbitrator's mind.
In the second phase of the hearing, the arbitrator will begin to ask questions. The purpose of the questions is solely for shedding light on areas where the arbitrator needs more information in order to have a complete understanding not only of the facts leading up to the dispute, but also to understand each party's thoughts and feelings leading up to the dispute. A good arbitrator tries to walk in your shoes (the same with the other party, of course). The arbitrator announces the end of the second phase when he or she feels comfortable with your case and is ready to hear more.
The third phase is where both parties are able to provide any additional testimony or evidence in support of their case. This phase goes on until both sides are finished testifying and each side "rests their case." That concludes the testimony and evidence portion of the hearing.
The last phase is closing arguments. Note the contrast between the word "statement" used in "opening statements", and the word "argument" in "closing arguments". The purpose of a statement is to inform the reader about certain things of a factual nature. In law, the term "argument" has a special meaning. This is where you try to persuade the arbitrator through logic that the testimony and evidence support a decision in your favor. New evidence is not allowed in a closing argument.
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