Arbitration falls under the dispute resolution process, as a mechanism to resolve legal disputes without going to court.
It’s a popular way to resolve disputes, because it’s often less costly and less time-consuming than going to court.
Arbitration works in a similar way as trials. You have one party file a complaint against another party, and a neutral third party, often an arbitrator, decides the matter.
The rules and regulations in regards to arbitration are provincial in nature, so almost every province/territory has its own arbitration legislation.
If you decide to represent yourself at arbitration then you are going to have to prepare yourself properly to represent your case well. Essentially, you would prepare a case as lawyers would prepare their cases for court.
What do I need to know to prepare myself for arbitration?
Know your case
You have to make sure to prepare the case you are going to present to the arbitrator, well before the arbitration starts. That means you have to read all of your own materials for the case, and all the material you got from the opposing side. Know your evidence, and prepare an opening and closing statement just in case, because you may be called upon to make these statements.
Know the rules
Again, it is important that you have a look at the rules and regulations for arbitration in your province or territory. This is crucial as knowing the process is often half the work. For example, if the arbitration is held in Alberta, you would look up the Arbitration Act of Alberta. S. 25 of the act instructs as to the procedural process of arbitrations.
There are also rules you have to follow about exchanging information with the other side, such as relevant documents in your possession that are related to the case. The other side also has to disclose documents and other relevant material to you.
You should know how to examine and to cross-examine witnesses. That may not necessarily be explained in the arbitration act and you will have to do further research into legal procedures to figure out how to do that if witnesses are going to be called by you and/or the other side.
Know your issues
It’s one thing to know the case, but do you know the specific issues of your case? In all cases, there are specific issues you, and/or the other party, is bringing in front of the arbitrator. Identify and know what the issues are, and prepare to speak to those issues to make points in your favour. That may necessitate you looking up case law and have witnesses testify on your behalf.
Also be prepared for any questions you or your witnesses may be asked by the opposing party and/or the arbitrator.
Lawyers represent many people who go through arbitration, as they tend to be complex semi-judicial processes. It’s usually a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer in regards to your case.
How to prepare for arbitration Ontario