Once the pre-arbitration matters are attended to (such as choosing the arbitrator and scheduling the hearing), the disputing parties can begin the process of preparing for arbitration. This process can vary based on the existing relationship between the parties and the nature of the dispute at hand. There are, however, a number of common elements that are integral to the arbitration process, from establishing the jurisdiction of the presiding arbitrator to compiling a case to arguing for a particular remedy to the dispute.
In order for arbitration to be an effective means of resolving disputes, the disputing parties must give jurisdiction over the matter to the arbitrator who will be hearing the case. This means that, after presenting their cases, the parties will allow the arbitrator to make a decision and, then abide by that decision.
In the case of labor disputes, an arbitrator derives his authority from the agreement of the two parties to give him jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is established in the collective bargaining agreement or labor contract that is currently in effect, in the process of being negotiated, or has expired. Based on this agreement, the arbitrator may have jurisdiction over all disputes or just those of a particular nature.
Once jurisdiction is established, both parties are set to the task of putting together a case. In arbitration, this culmination of facts and evidence is known as the case-in-chief. The case-in-chief refers to actual meat of the case-the labor agreement, the testimony of the witnesses, the documents submitted into evidence. Unlike a trial, in which intense cross-examinations and epic closing arguments can sway the emotions of a jury, an arbitration proceeding is heard and decided by a (presumably) experienced and objective individual. Thus, a coherent and logical organization and presentation of facts and a rebuttal of the assertions of the opposing party are the primary ways to present a strong case.
Requesting a Remedy
Another essential factor in preparing a case for arbitration is for each party to determine what it wants as an outcome. In legal terms, this is known as the remedy. For labor disputes, it is important for both parties to address this issue.
The grieving party must set out what type of relief or compensation it seeks in the even the arbitrator finds in his favor. This may be a monetary award or, in the case of an employee who has bee fired, reinstatement. Because the arbitrator will be determining the relief as part of his overall ruling, it is important to include both the details of the relief sought and the rationale for it.
Although the responding party (usually the employer) is simply seeking to deny the validity or the grievance, the issue of relief remains important. Specifically, the responding party can argue that the relief sought is inappropriate even if the arbitrator finds for the grievant. Without an alternative, the arbitrator has only the grievant’s recommendation for relief to consider.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.