International Centre for Dispute Resolution

Mar 12


Jonathan W. Fitch

Jonathan W. Fitch

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Sally & Fitch LLP has extensive experience representing clients in international litigation and international arbitrations. The international cases they handle involve sizable commercial contract disputes, business-related torts, including claims for misrepresentation and fraud, admiralty and maritime matters, and actions for the enforcement of judgments rendered by foreign courts.

In a growing,International Centre for Dispute Resolution Articles global economy where alternative dispute resolution is becoming more and more common, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution provides an increasingly important forum for resolving international business disputes.What is ADR?Alternative dispute resolution offers a different forum for resolving disputes than the traditional adversarial court system. The two most common types of ADR are meditation and arbitration.During mediation, parties work together with an impartial mediator in a more collaborative process to find a solution to their dispute. The mediator typically does not have the authority to make any decision made by the parties binding upon them. Parties may use the mediation process first before proceeding with the more formal arbitration process.Arbitrationis more like an informal court proceeding than mediation. Each party is given an opportunity to present its claim, supporting evidence and witness testimony before an independent and impartial arbitrator. The arbitratormay be a single person or a panel. After each side has had an opportunity to be heard, the arbitrator will issue a written decision to settle the dispute. The decision can include an award of damages. Unlike mediation, arbitration decisions are generally binding and enforceable.What is the ICDR?The International Centre for Dispute Resolution is the international branch of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). It was formed in 1996 to exclusively handle international disputes. The ICDR has cooperative agreements with arbitral institutions in more than 40 countries and handles hundreds of cases each year. The ICDR employs experienced and multilingual staff, case managers, arbitrators and mediators. The ICDR can preside over arbitrations held anywhere in the world.How does international arbitration work?Generally, parties will have agreed to use arbitration to settle any disputes that may arise before a disagreement ever occurs, usually through a clause in their contract or a separate arbitration agreement. The arbitration agreement can stipulate how the process will work, where the arbitration will be held, how many arbitrators will be used or even the specific arbitrator(s) that will decide the dispute. Parties also have the option of using arbitration after the dispute arises, but all parties involved must agree to use the alternative forum.To initiate the process, one party (the claimant) will file a written notice with an ICDR administrator and the other party to the dispute. This notice, much like a typical legal complaint, will include the parties' decision to use arbitration to settle the dispute, reference the contractual clause requiring arbitration (if applicable), provide a concise statement of the facts of the dispute and any supporting evidence and list the type of remedy the claimant is seeking from the other party.Once the notice has been filed and received, the other party (the respondent) has 30 days to file its own written statement (the defense statement) in response to the claimant's statement. The defense statement also may contain any counterclaims by the respondent as well set-offs of any claims covered by the arbitration agreement between the parties. The defense statement must be provided to the ICDR administrator and the claimant. After the defense statement has been filed and received by the claimant, the claimant will have an additional 30 days to respond to the defense statement.If the parties did not provide a process for selecting the arbitrator or cannot come to an agreement on which arbitrator to use, the International Arbitration Rules provide that the ICDR will select the arbitrator.The procedure of the actual arbitration is much more flexible than the procedure used by courts. Unless the parties have specifically agreed to a certain procedure, the arbitrator is allowed to conduct the arbitration in any manner he or she sees fit. The only requirement is that each party is treated fairly and given equal opportunity to be heard before the arbitrator.Most arbitration proceedings are completed within 45 days, but may take longer at the discretion of the arbitrator. The proceedings are completely private and confidential, unless the parties agreed differently or controlling law requires otherwise.How are final decisions made by the arbitrator?After both sides have had a fair opportunity to present their cases and supporting evidence, the arbitrator will issue a decision. If there is a panel of arbitrators, the majority vote will determine the outcome. The arbitrator's decision is generally binding on the parties and enforceable.Many countries have laws that recognize and enforce arbitration decisions. Currently, 144 countries have ratified the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, the international treaty requiring countries to recognize arbitration agreements and uphold and enforce arbitration decisions made by other countries. A list of the countries that have ratified the treaty is available at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Web site, available at

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