The CPR European Advisory Board presents: “Meet CPR Distinguished Neutrals Based in Europe: Bart Neervoort”

bart

The CPR European Advisory Board (EAB) continues its series, “Meet CPR’s Distinguished Neutrals in Europe” and today it presents its fourth Q&A, with Bart Neervoort, from the perspective of a mediator.

Bart is an international trial lawyer turned full-time mediator and arbitrator, based in the Netherlands.  Over the last ten years he has handled disputes in diverse areas including construction, shipbuilding, professional negligence, medical malpractice and shareholder disputes.  He has been an arbitrator for NAI, ICC (Paris), UNUM (Rotterdam), LCIA (India) and CIETAC (China).  These days his practice focuses on mediation and he is a certified mediator for MfN, IMI, ICC (Paris), CEDR (London) as well as a CPR Distinguished Neutral. 

How did you get your start as a neutral?

As a committed litigator I was skeptical when the High Court in London suggested mediation in a case I was involved in before the case actually went to trial. I was more than surprised that the case settled in a day!

Who is your dispute resolution hero/heroine?

Among many others, I would say David Hoffman and Michel Kalepatis. David’s teaching at Harvard’s Summer School left me and other experienced mediators in awe as he demonstrated how to overcome the most challenging of deadlocks and keep the most difficult people at the table. And Michel is simply the Godfather of mediation in Europe!

What is the one piece of advice you would want to give to the younger generation looking for a first appointment as neutral?

Don’t be too keen as a mediator on reaching resolution. When you start mediating, you tend to think settlement is your success and failing to reach agreement is your failure. My experience has been that one can overstretch your skills if you are too eager. Let the parties do the work. It is their process. You are there to guide them. Keep in mind, it is their resolution, not yours and their problem if they do not resolve their dispute.  Finally, don’t boast about your success rate.  Remember, you are there for the parties.

Were you ever the first in doing something?

Yes, I was the first Dutchman to do an ICC mediation (between a UN Body and a Greek party).

What makes your conflict resolution style unique?

I would like to think, that showing my own vulnerability to the parties works well.  Also, my sense of optimism about the outcome of the dispute and, of course, humor always helps!

What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced as a neutral?

Mediating between two very stubborn 88 year old shareholders!

What is the most important mistake you see counsel make?

They often fail to realize that in order to reach settlement at mediation it is extremely unhelpful to position oneself as the “opposing side.”  Settlements are reached together.

If you could change one thing about commercial mediation, what would it be?

I would make mediation advocacy compulsory in lawyers’ training programs.

Now let’s turn to a specific topic: what is your approach to cybersecurity and data protection in international dispute resolution?

I believe the dangers are currently underestimated and neutrals should have proper protection in place and be accountable for that to the parties.

What do you see as the next “big thing” in global dispute prevention and resolution?

Dispute prevention being recognized for what it’s worth in all layers of the business community. Resolution of disputes by the parties themselves being recognized by lawyers as something that is really beneficial for their clients.

For which types of conflicts would you recommend ADR?

I believe you can use ADR for almost any commercial or corporate dispute.

In your view, what makes CPR unique?

The way in which it has been able to mobilize both the corporate and legal US communities to draw up Dispute Resolution Pledges and offer a forum for ADR. If only CPR could reach the same standing in Europe!

Do you have an anecdote you would like to share?

A Greek almost tragedy that ended well! In an international mediation between a German and a Greek party, the latter and his lawyer made it difficult for the other party and the mediator. The lawyer, when asked in caucus what his client’s BATNA was, said he had no idea and saw it as his task to bring forward his client’s arguments as if in litigation, not to advise on a possible outcome of a court case. His client rejected what was on offer, said “no” and closed his folder. He said “no” a second time, putting his file in his briefcase and repeated his position a third time as he left the room. Finally, in an improvised caucus in the hallway the client made a counter-proposal with only minor changes, which was acceptable to the other party. Multicultural mediation. I love it.

10 Reasons Arbitration Beats Traditional Litigation

Janice_NewBy Janice L. Sperow

  1. Faster

Parties usually get to hearing within a year of filing and even quicker for simpler and expedited disputes whereas a court case will often wend its way through the system for two to five years before trial depending on the jurisdiction. Now add the backlog of closed courts, reduced public funding, criminal case priority, and pandemic-related lawsuits, and arbitration becomes significantly quicker than the court system. Even the decision-making process can be swifter. Most arbitrators render an award within thirty days of closing the hearing, whereas an overworked judge or appellate court may require months to issue a final decision. Traditional litigation’s delay becomes even more troubling when the parties consider the ticking of the pre or post judgment interest clock.

  1. Flexibility

Parties can schedule discovery, c10 Reasons Arbitration Beats Traditional Litigationonferences, deadlines, motion practice, and hearings around their schedule, not the beleaguered, overcrowded court docket. Most arbitrators will accommodate scheduling conflicts and personal plans, whereas the courts expect the parties to work around their calendars. Parties can also narrow the scope of the issues presented to the arbitrator for resolution without the need for a summary adjudication process.

  1. Confidentiality

Parties can ensure confidentiality. Only participants can attend the arbitration because the proceedings remain private unlike traditional litigation open to the public. Even the arbitration filings remain private while anyone can access court filings. Parties may also like the non-precedent setting nature of arbitration, especially if they have similar cases coming behind this dispute.

  1. Affordable

Faster hearings mean lower costs. Instead of the litigation expense mounting over years of protracted conflict, the parties can curtail the amount of discovery, conferences, motion practice, and time to hearing and thereby significantly reduce their attorneys’ fees and costs.

  1. Choice

Parties typically select their arbitrator. They agree upon the decisionmaker of their choice instead of the random assignment of a court judge or the jury pool in traditional litigation.

  1. Expertise

Parties can also choose an arbitrator with specific subject matter expertise, skill, or experience. Especially in highly technical cases, the parties can save a lot of time, expense, and effort when their jurist already understands the landscape. Some parties choose to forgo expert testimony because, unlike the jury, the arbitrator has the specialized knowledge to follow the presentation of evidence without an expert’s explanation.

  1. Simpler

Parties can schedule a quick call with the arbitrator to settle a discovery dispute or email a subpoena request; they do not have to file a costly motion with proper notice. Most arbitrators relax the rules of evidence and eliminate burdensome procedures.

  1. More Predictable

As every seasoned litigator knows, no one can predict how a jury will decide. Arbitrators, however, pride themselves on following the law, applying it to the facts, and eschewing emotional appeals. They remain far less susceptible to sympathy than a jury.

  1. Control

Parties can control the arbitration process either through their arbitration contract or by post-dispute agreement. They decide how much discovery to afford, what law will apply, which procedural rules will apply, where the dispute will be heard, how the dispute will be heard – in person, video conference, telephonic, or documentary – and much more. The arbitrator will implement the parties’ choices as long as they agree. In fact, the parties can amend, modify, or reject most arbitral rules of the forum if they want.

  1. Finality

Parties can only appeal arbitration awards on limited grounds. Accordingly, they can put their dispute to rest and get back to business quicker, faster, and cheaper – something we all want to do as soon as the pandemic permits.

________________________

Janice Sperow is a full-time arbitrator and mediator. She serves as a neutral for the San Diego Superior Court (where she also sits as a Judge Pro Tem), American Arbitration Association, the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, the Financial Industry Neutral Regulatory Authority, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the National Futures Association, and the Better Business Bureau. www.janicesperow.com

 

 

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The CPR Institute.

The CPR European Advisory Board presents: “Meet CPR Distinguished Neutrals Based in Europe: Mauro Rubino Sammartano

183The CPR European Advisory Board (EAB) continues it series “meet CPR’s Distinguished Neutrals in Europe” and today it presents its third Q&A with Mauro Rubino Sammartano.

Mauro Rubino Sammartano (pictured) is a partner in the Italian law firm Law Fed based in Milano.  Mauro sits as an arbitrator in commercial and investment arbitrations. His wide experience includes advocacy in Italy and in Paris, being an associate tenant of a London set of Chambers for many years, and a Recorder and Deputy Judge in Italy.  He has been involved in arbitration for about 30 years more recently, in mediation.  Mauro is also chair of the European Court of Arbitration and the Mediation Centre of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  He lectures on arbitration and mediation and is the author of several textbooks and articles on topics of international arbitration.

Mauro kindly agreed to grant us an interview for the third blog piece of our series profiling CPR Neutrals in Europe.  Here are his insights:

How did you get your start as a neutral?

I have come to arbitration by acting as counsel in large international construction projects. I enjoyed arbitration and started studying it. I had been involved in construction matters for some time when I received my first appointment as arbitrator in a construction dispute.   I really liked it; I saw similarities with my prior activities as Recorder and then as a Deputy Judge in Italy.

Dealing with ADR, I realized that the top priority for litigants is to avoid or at least to narrow the scope of a litigation. I therefore started to deepen my knowledge of mediation, I have now become a trainer in mediation and the chair the Mediation Centre for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Who is your dispute resolution hero/heroine?

Hans Smit, Columbia University, for having handled an arbitration proceeding extraordinarily fast, which remains a rare example in commercial arbitration.

What is the one advice you want to give to the younger generation looking for a first appointment as neutral?

Study international arbitration and write about it.  It will transpire from your conduct whether you practice in this field because you like it, or it is just a business opportunity for you.

Were you ever the first in doing something?

Probably I was the first (i) to introduce in 1997 in the rules of the European Court of Arbitration, sections providing for an appellate arbitral tribunal in commercial arbitration and (ii) to stress the duty of an arbitrator to act “with humanity and humility.

What makes your conflict resolution style unique?

I have noticed, through my various contacts on the international level, that a frequent complaint against arbitrators is that they remain distant from the parties, do not always know the file well and seem willing to spend the least possible time on the dispute. To me, the duties of an arbitrator are exactly the opposite: the arbitrator must be available to the parties, study the file well and devote to it all the necessary time. This approach amounts to acting in a spirit of service. My approach to arbitration is this one.

What was the most difficult challenge you faced as a neutral?

In my early days, to my great surprise, I had to refuse a top appointment because the appointor was clearly expecting that the party-appointed arbitrator would act for it.

Another difficult challenge to me is that there is not always enough discussion within the panel, each arbitrator tending to go his/her way. Discussions and even better, a very frank discussion, seem to me essential for the arbitrators to reach the best possible solution.

What is the most important mistake you see counsel make?

The most important mistake which in my opinion too many counsels make, is to keep repeating themselves in all their pleadings and/or discussions. This is likely to produce the risk that the arbitrator does not read at length all the passages in which he/she finds a clear repetition and sometimes in the middle of such repetition there could be anew sentence or word which might have helped that party’s case.

Another mistake is to insist on a hopeless argument. In general, counsel should not ignore what transpires from the conduct of the arbitrators and the opposing party and adjust – if needed – his/her line of defense.

If you could change one thing about commercial arbitration, what would it be?

A frequent negative view of commercial arbitrators is that they concentrate on showing how good they are and on writing a brilliant piece of legal literature.

Another very negative aspect for the image of arbitration consists of frequent appointments made just because of the “esprit de copinage”.  This leads some arbitrators not to share their position fully with the other members of the panel by fear of making them unhappy and jeopardizing the possibility that they could appoint him/her on other occasions in the future.

In your view, what makes CPR unique?

What to me makes CPR unique is the message that it conveys: it shows that CPR has neither a self-serving nor a commercial purpose and its Rules illustrate its goal of understanding the needs of the parties and to find way to address and accommodate them.

A Letter from CPR President & CEO, Allen Waxman

It has been a month since my last update to you, and certainly much has happened during this strange and challenging time. I hope that you are finding ways to tend, not only to the health of your businesses and professional lives, but also to yourselves personally. While honoring our responsibilities to our companies and clients/customers, I believe it is of paramount importance during this time also to be gentle with ourselves and each other. If it feels difficult, it is because it is difficult! We are trying to take the same counsel at CPR.  Our staff has all been working remotely, and finding ways to connect with each other over diverse platforms.  I now know the look of the kitchens, living rooms or guest rooms of each of my colleagues.  That takes us to a whole new level!

At the same time, I am so very proud of our staff in being true to our mission – managing conflict to enable purpose.  We have continued to offer insightful programming on how to prevent and resolve disputes most effectively during this time while also providing our dispute resolution services.  Your engagement and support (financial and otherwise) for us is more important than ever to enable us to pursue our mission.  Thank you.

I thought I would take this opportunity to review with you some of our activities over the last month.

CPR DISPUTE RESOLUTION REMAINS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

CPR Dispute Resolution continues to operate seamlessly, offering our full suite of dispute prevention and resolution services. Given the backlog in the courts, the time for ADR is now.  DRS’ services, rules and protocols, and Panel of Distinguished Neutrals can help resolve matters efficiently and effectively.

Arbitration – For parties in disputes during COVID-19, you may want to consider converting a pending court case to a CPR Administered Arbitration, or entering (with the other party) into an arbitration clause more appropriate under the circumstances. In both cases, you will need to enter into an arbitration submission agreement with your counterparty. Model language for doing so can be found HERE.

Mediation –CPR’s Mediation Services are also available to assist businesses in these difficult times. You can find more information on these services HERE. In addition, CPR has just announced the upcoming launch of a new COVID-19 Flat Fee Mediation Program, in collaboration with Legal Innovators and FTI Consulting, to resolve disputes below $5 million. That program is being kicked off with a free May 13 webinar.

Dispute Prevention – We have launched a new Dispute Prevention Panel, comprised of neutrals who have the experience to facilitate resolution of a dispute before it becomes a legal conflict.  You can find more information HERE.

Because our offices remain closed, new filers should continue to submit electronically at cprneutrals@cpradr.org, and all payments should be made via credit card or wire transfer (please specify in your cover email how you would like to pay); paper filings cannot be accepted. To send files via Voltage encrypted email, please email herickson@cpradr.org to be authorized.

NEW PROGRAMMING

We recently hosted one of many programs that are part of our COVID-19-related focus, titled “Stability in the Pandemic: Personal, Professional and Global Targets.” This webinar featured renowned academics Lela Love, Professor of Law and Director of the Kukin Program for Conflict Resolution at Cardozo Law School, and Sukhsimranjit Singh, Assistant Professor of Law and Practice and Managing Director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law. The speakers discussed holistic methods to approach conflict while social distancing, touching on key mediation strategies and self-care techniques to create a positive and conflict-free living and work space. A recording will be available soon and can be found in our “ADR in the Time of COVID-19” section, along with numerous other resources, HERE, and I encourage you to explore and check back often for updates.

SOCIAL DISTANCING – BUT STILL SURGING AHEAD ON ALL FRONTS

CPR continues to forge ahead and grow in numerous other ways I am delighted to share with you.

New Partnerships – CPR recently announced a strategic partnership with the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), through which IADC named CPR as a recommended ADR services provider. The IADC will be promoting CPR membership, DRS services, and arbitration and mediation rules to its 2,500 members, which in turn will gain access to valuable CPR benefits, resources and discounts, including CPR membership and other joint programming opportunities. And this collaboration is bearing almost immediate fruit, in the form of our upcoming joint webinar, “Resolving Legal Disputes in the Era of COVID-19.”

Support for Remote Video Arbitrations – Ever responsive to the changing legal landscape, CPR quickly convened a task force that created an Annotated Model Procedural Order for Remote Video Arbitration Proceedings. The model order puts into one, user-friendly document the best practices that the arbitration community needs to navigate remote video hearings. This new model procedure is a perfect example of what CPR can do and does regularly – harnessing the rich insights and vast experience of its membership to create timely and cutting-edge resources that both benefit users and enhance the capacity for ADR, in general.

The Drive for Diversity Continues – Since my last update, CPR also took a further step toward promoting diversity in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) by launching a new clause to be used by parties who wish to pre-commit to a diverse panel of neutrals in a future dispute to be resolved by arbitration. Read the full press release HERE.

New Data Security Resources – CPR continues to take steps to help parties and neutrals address the challenges of maintaining data and cybersecurity in ADR matters. In our new website section, you will find information relating to communicating with CPR on case-related matters, cybersecurity in arbitration and other ADR proceedings, data protection and the CPR online dispute resolution platform, as well as other technology tools and member discounts for e-filing services.

Networking for Neutrals – CPR has continued its role of providing service to the ADR community by convening three Neutrals Forums in different time zones to provide a space for the exchange of questions, learning and best practices for remote proceedings during the time of COVID-19. Participants were able to discuss issues that have arisen or are anticipated to arise in such proceedings such as the potential for witness coaching and the handling of exhibits during such procedures. The CPR Annotated Model Procedural Order was circulated to attendees and several of its provisions highlighted. Neutrals, please watch your email inbox for future invitations.

A RICH SCHEDULE OF UPCOMING PROGRAMMING

Our events calendar continues to be as relevant as it is robust. Upcoming virtual events include:

New events are scheduled regularly, so be sure to check our website Upcoming Events section regularly for new offerings.

STAY SAFE AND STAY STRONG

This has been a trying but also a productive time.  Keep engaging with us as we navigate this new normal together.  We in the CPR community are a resilient and resourceful bunch, and I am confident that, with generosity and patience, we will continue to overcome these challenges together.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, or just let me know how you are doing. (Instead of hitting reply, please drop me a note at awaxman@cpradr.org to make sure I see your message quickly.)

Warm regards,

Allen Waxman

Supreme Court Declines To Hear Arbitration Case on ‘Equal Footing’

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to hear an appeal in an Oklahoma arbitration case on the so-called equal-footing principle—the idea that the Federal Arbitration Act prevents courts and legislatures from targeting rulings and laws to arbitration agreements, and instead requires  them to place arbitration on an equal footing with other contracts.

The Court denied cert on Tamko Building Products, Inc. v. Williams, Daniel, et al., No. 19-959 (case documents including party briefs available on Scotusblog at https://bit.ly/3dcPrn7).

The Oklahoma Supreme Court case declined to enforce an arbitration agreement between homeowners and shingle manufacturers where the arbitration agreement was “printed on shingle wrapping viewed only by contractors and then discarded.”

Tamko, a Galena, Kansas, building supply company, contended that the Oklahoma court’s decision violated the principle in the Supreme Court case of Kindred Nursing Ctrs. Ltd. P’ship v. Clark, 137 S. Ct. 1421 (2017) (available at https://bit.ly/2YvMji9), which held that the FAA couldn’t be held to higher standards than other contracts.

Tamko, according to its reply brief filed last month with the Court, contended that the Oklahoma Supreme Court “found an agency relationship that empowered contractors buying shingles to bind homeowners to the terms of sale concerning matters such as price and delivery, but not arbitration—because of the importance of the jury-trial right.”

But, it continued, “That decision blatantly violates the FAA’s equal-footing principle.”

As a result of the cert denial, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision that the homeowners “never had an opportunity to make a knowing waiver of access to the courts,” stands, along with its reversal of a trial court order remanding the case for trial.

The CPR European Advisory Board presents: “Meet CPR Distinguished Neutrals Based in Europe: Tsisana Shamlikashvili

Tsisana Shamlikashvili

The CPR European Advisory Board (EAB) continues its series, “Meet CPR’s Distinguished Neutrals in Europe,” and today it presents its second Q&A, with Professor Tsisana Shamlikashvili, centering around the theme of “Mediation in the 21st Century.”

Tsisana is a Moscow based, international expert in ADR.  She focuses on mediation and was responsible for initiating and supporting the institutionalization of mediation in Russia, founding the Center for Mediation and Law in 2005.  Her mediation/neutral practice covers a wide range of cases from complicated cross-border commercial disputes to family conflicts, as well as intellectual property, workplace, financial, personal injury and medical malpractice disputes.  She is currently president of the National Organization of Mediators (NOM), academic chair of the Federal Institute of Mediation, founder of the Scientific and Methodological Center for Mediation and Law, Chair of the Subcommittee on ADR and Mediation in the Russian Association of Lawyers, founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine “Mediation and Law”, and head of the Mediation Master’s Program at MSUPE. [https://mediacia.com/en/founder/]

By Kathleen Fadden (consultant with AMGEN) and Vanessa Alarcon Duvanel (King & Spalding LLP) 

How did you get your start as a neutral?

It has been a lifelong journey towards mediation which perfectly synthesized my professional background and experience.  Understanding how imperfect traditional ways of addressing conflict are and how much harm we can avoid using mediation as a preventive approach made me start the journey.

Who is your dispute resolution hero/heroine?

I strongly believe that each person who finds enough courage to step into a dialogue with his/her opponent has to be supported and professionals who assist in these complex situations are heroes and heroines too.

What is the one piece of advice that you would want to give to the younger generation looking for a first appointment as neutral?

To be consistent and persistent, to stay humble and maintain curiosity.  Always be ready for the unexpected.  Be surprised about what won’t happen!

Were you ever the first in doing something?

Yes, indeed.  Development of mediation and its institutionalization in Russia was initiated by me, as was ADR implementation generally.

What makes your conflict resolution style unique?

Each mediator is unique and each mediation is unique.  My preference is to facilitate parties in their efforts to resolve the conflict, to find an exit out of dispute which will provide the parties with a mutually acceptable future.  This means possessing the ability to use different models of mediation in each case or even a blend of the models to achieve the best result.  The main thing is to follow the key principles of mediation as a modern tool to address the conflict and to develop conditions so that the parties in the conflict are empowered.

What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced as a neutral?

There are difficulties and dilemmas in almost every case.  Ethical dilemmas are often the most complicated to resolve.  For example, how should a mediator behave when he/she holds information crucial for settlement of the case but one party does not want to share the information with counterparts and does not wish the mediator to do so either or even have any direct discussion about the topic?

What is the most important mistake you see counsel make?

The biggest mistake counsel can make is to fail to give the represented party a real voice, view or opinion at the hearing.

If you could change one thing about commercial arbitration, what would it be?

It would probably be the introduction of a two to three hour compulsory informative session regarding mediation and the requirement to include a mediation clause in most contracts.

Now let’s turn to a specific topic: what is your approach to cybersecurity and data protection in international dispute resolution?

We have to be very attentive to potential vulnerabilities caused by the use of technology and indeed follow all data protection rules in every context, domestic and crossborder.

What do you see as the next “big thing” in global dispute prevention and resolution?

I think one of the next “big things” is the wider use of mediation.  Citizens, societies, corporations and states developing a real culture of dialogue to prevent conflict when disputes occur.  We should deploy all possible efforts to make that happen.  Thinking about new trends in dispute resolution, ODR deserves a mention.  It is necessary in a global digital world. Today there is an increasing demand for ODR in the court environment.  Hopefully, in time, the private sector in B2B / B2C transactions will understand the benefits of such tools not only in e-commerce and not just in the cross-border context. In recent weeks we’ve already witnessed a growing demand for ODR and mediation using tech platforms. Mediation will be one among other preventive tools in times of crisis for disrupted businesses.

For which types of conflicts would you recommend ADR?

In most cases, ADR and specifically mediation, offers parties more advantages and opportunities to resolve disputes with the best possible outcome because control is in the hands of the parties.  ADR can be used in commercial cases, IP cases, construction/development, insolvency, medical malpractice, personal injury etc.  There are very seldom cases when mediation cannot be used and of course, sometimes, it can be combined with other ADR modes.  For instance, recently there has been growing interest in hybrid procedures such as MED-ARB/ARB-MED.

In your view, what makes CPR unique?

CPR is one of the oldest organizations, established to change the dispute culture and promote ADR in business/economic environments as well as in society as a whole.  CPR is trying to approach and involve all stakeholders even if they have conflict of interests.  The CPR pledge for corporations and law firms was one of the key factors which increased awareness of ADR and spawned a demand for use of ADR.  Last, but not least, CPR has gathered the most experienced ADR professionals/neutrals.

Do you have any concluding remarks you would like to share?

The contemporary world needs dialogue and inclusion at all levels of society now more than ever in human history. In times of crisis and total threat to fundamental human rights, interference with private life, radical shifts within social life and familiar modes of communication, mediation can empower individuals, make their voices heard in a constructive way by others, especially by decision-makers.

CPR’s Arbitration Committee Tackles ADR Video Conferencing 

By Michael Hotz

The International Institute of Conflict Prevention and Resolution’s Arbitration Committee  hosted an online event early this month to tackle questions from neutrals and advocates designed to help them properly use video conferencing to conduct alternative dispute resolution hearings remotely.

The event was a continuation of a series of discussions hosted by the CPR Institute examining remote mediation and arbitration practices and addressing issues neutrals are encountering conducting remote hearings.  For a roundup of earlier CPR events, see this April 2 CPR Speaks blog post. The CPR Institute’s information clearinghouse on the virus and its effects can be found on its website at the link for ADR in the Time of COVID-19.

The April 7 teleconference was moderated by White & Case New York partner Jennifer Glasser, who is vice chair of the CPR Institute’s Arbitration Committee. Three panel members included: Daniel González, a Miami-based partner at Hogan Lovells; Samaa Haridi, a partner in Hogan Lovells’ New York office, and Jorge Mattamouros, a partner in White & Case’s Houston office.

Mattamouros began by discussing his video hearings experiences. The case he explored was a hearing in a large Brazilian M&A dispute. The hearing was mostly conducted in Portuguese, but also had English language witnesses. It began before the COVID-19 pandemic, so the process had to change in response to the health and safety measures implemented internationally.

Transitioning to remote hearings was made easier, Mattamouros explained, as the parties already had established a protocol for electronic conferencing. First, the parties conducted the opening presentation, and fact witnesses’ examination and cross examination, before travel bans in the United States and Europe.

Then the parties returned home and the hearing continued online using Zoom for the examination of the expert witnesses. Mattamouros noted that platforms like Zoom have chat functions that, if not turned off, allow the witnesses to receive messages during examination. Other neutrals, the panel noted, have used WebEx or other remote conferencing platforms.

The key benefit to being able to use telecommunication services to do arbitration was the ability to conduct hearings across the globe. This is especially relevant for smaller matters, as the amount disputed doesn’t necessarily merit traveling internationally.

Panelist Samaa Haridi discussed how technology allowed her to conduct an arbitration as tribunal chair remotely from New York, despite time differences, with the parties and co-arbitrators in Dubai and London. The timing was a key issue, as it required that the parties coordinate and that the arbitrators arrange a schedule that didn’t impose too great of a burden on any one party. In her hearings, Haridi explained, it often required that she start her day earlier than usual.

Glasser observed that remote hearings may require shorter hearing days but more total hearing time, both to accommodate time differences with parties across the globe but also because it is more difficult to keep the arbitrators and parties engaged when interacting virtually.

Haridi agreed that it was harder to keep people focused when they weren’t conducting in-person meetings. This required the neutral to adjust expectations of what could be accomplished each day.

In one semi-remote hearing Haridi participated in as arbitrator, the parties  were together in one location, and two of the arbitrators were in different cities. And while the third arbitrator was located in the same venue as the parties, he sat in a separate room to maintain an appropriate balance considering the virtual participation of the other tribunal members.

To ward off potential challenges to the award on the basis of perceived lack of neutrality or unequal access to information by the arbitrators, Haridi recommended having the neutral participate in a separate room from the parties in cases such as hers where not all of the arbitrators are able to sit together with the parties in one location. This maintains the appearance of impartiality.

Daniel González stated that he has participated in remote hearings for many years, such as examining a witness by video while the neutral and parties are together in another location.  While remote hearings in the age of Covid-19 present the new challenge of all participants joining remotely from different locations, and technology is rapidly evolving to meet this challenge, it is the human factor and interaction that has not changed over time and must be carefully considered as it will present special issues for the arbitrators, the cross examiners and the witnesses on how they can carry out these virtual hearings.  For example, one challenge the program panel members agreed on is the ability to use and assess body language.

For example, during cross examination, it is difficult for the lawyer to gauge the tribunal’s reaction or for the witness to know if they are effectively conveying information to them.

Hogan Lovells’ Haridi mentioned that the lack of body language also made it harder to evaluate the credibility of a witness. This is one critical issue that led Jorge Mattamouros to state that in-person meetings were still preferable.

Another issue the panelists discussed was the sharing of documents. Remote hearing technology allows for the presentation of documents through the video conference platform.  This feature was used in all of the remote hearings conducted by the panelists.

The panel then discussed how to ensure the efficient presentation of evidence in document intensive cases that are being heard remotely.  Mattamouros commented that he combined all of the exhibits into one master PDF so the parties, tribunal, and witness could easily navigate to the relevant document and page number being referenced without losing time to find and toggle between different documents.

González noted that vendors that handle the organization and presentation of the record in conventional settings were available for virtual sessions as well. Using a third party alleviates the burden on counsel to manage the technology and document presentation.  He argued that it was best to use whatever method the tribunal was comfortable with.

The participants then discussed fairness in arbitration.

Samaa Haridi commented that the use of online hearings could create additional challenges in enforcing an arbitration tribunal’s award. A party who dislikes the ruling could challenge the award by claiming there was no due process.  It remains to be seen how courts deal with such challenges.

White & Case’s Jorge Mattamouros noted that the party’s lack of consent didn’t always establish a lack of due process. That would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The discussion noted that there is broad leeway granted to arbitrators and mediators when establishing a fair process. Acquiring consent is a simple way of reducing the likelihood that a party can challenge the outcome successfully, but it is not the only one.

Moderator Glasser concluded by asking for the panel’s views on the future of remote hearings after the Covid-19 crisis.  The panel agreed that remote hearings are likely here to stay in some form, such as convening initial case management conferences by video rather than meeting in person.

They also agreed, however, that human interaction is a critical part of a hearing and that in-person hearings will not become a vestige of the past.  Ultimately whether to hold a remote hearing will be a fact-specific inquiry depending on the circumstances at hand.

Glasser brought up the problem that, as more arbitration is moved online, newer attorneys may get fewer stand-up opportunities to make oral argument or cross-examine witnesses. In a standard face-to-face processes, the attorney in charge can allow the novice lawyer to take control more often, as they are still in the room and provide correction and assistance instantly. In the online forum, they do not have that ability, making it much less likely that anyone would be willing to risk their case to give the newer attorney some experience.

* * *

After the discussion of the benefits and issues with virtual arbitration procedures, CPR Institute Senior Vice President Olivier P. Andre discussed the need for those using document transfer or other communication platforms to ensure that they comply with relevant privacy laws.

Without proper cybersecurity, the process can leave parties’ documents vulnerable and potentially subject the neutral to lability. He recommended consulting the CPR/FTI Consulting Cybersecurity Training, the draft ICCA-IBA Roadmap to Data Protection, and the International Council for Commercial Arbitration-New York City Bar Association-CPR Institute Cybersecurity Protocol for International Arbitration. These resources are designed to provide guidance on how to manage the risks associated with cybersecurity and privacy regulations.

* * *

CPR Arbitration Committee Chair Hagit Elul, a partner in New York’s Hughes Hubbard & Reed, announced that the committee was planning on creating an industry-specific project by corroborating with other CPR Institute industry committees such as the pharmaceutical, finance, energy, and construction committees.

The committee also discussed the CPR Institute’s Annotated Model Procedural Order for Remote Video Arbitration Proceedings, a new best-practices document for navigating arbitration hearings electronically.  The document was since released by CPR on April 21, and the details can be found on CPR’s website here.

 

Michael Hotz is a CPR Institute 2020 Spring Intern. His account relies on post-session comments from the participants.

NY Federal Judge Rejects Trumps’ Motion to Compel Arbitration

By Anne Muenchinger

A New York  Southern District matter accusing President Donald Trump, his company and his family of endorsing an allegedly fraudulent sales scheme is moving forward as litigation after the defendants tried to move the case to arbitration.

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Scholfield refused the Trump Corp.’s motion to compel arbitration of the claims. Jane Doe, et al. v. Trump Corp., et al., 18 Civ. 9936 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y. April 8) (available at https://bit.ly/2wXWZLh).

The order is the latest development in a claim originally filed in October 2018, against Trump Corp., the president, and his three older children for racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer in violation of federal law, and six state law claims relating to unfair or untrue business practices.

The amended complaint alleged that the Trumps promoted Concord, N.C.’s ACN Opportunity LLC, a non-party to the action.  ACN is a multi-level marketing company which contracts with independent business owners, or “IBOs,” who then sell ACN’s products and services to the wider public. The ACN videophone tanked, and the plaintiffs allege they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The company was endorsed and promoted by Trump Corp. through multiple media advertising channels, including during episodes of the television program Celebrity Apprentice, hosted by Donald Trump and featuring his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

The anonymous plaintiff, along with other similarly placed complainants, signed up to become IBOs, citing the defendants’ endorsement as a crucial in deciding to contract with ACN.

Their action, brought individually and on behalf of a putative class, alleges that the defendants made false statements in the promotional material that concealed that the Trumps were paid for their promotion, rather than because they believed that ACN “offered a reasonable probability of commercial success.”

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss following a February 2019 amended complaint, which was granted on the racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer claims.  But state law claims of dissemination of untrue and misleading public statements, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, deceptive practices, as well as fraud and negligent misrepresentations were permitted to proceed, with the court retaining jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).

The Trumps notified the court on July 19, 2019, of their intention to compel arbitration, eight months into litigation. Their motion is based on the contract signed between ACN and each IBO, which includes a clause mandating the resolution of all disputes via binding arbitration under the American Arbitration Association commercial arbitration rules.

In her denial order earlier this month, Judge Scholfield not only firmly rejects the motion, but issued a scathing rebuke of the Trumps’ behavior which she denounces as “substantively prejudicial towards Plaintiffs and seeks to use the [Federal Arbitration Act] as a vehicle to manipulate the rules of procedure to the Defendants’ benefit and Plaintiffs’ harm.” Jane Doe, et al. v. Trump Corp., et al., 18 Civ. 9936 (LGS) at 15.

Scholfield added, “Such tactics undermine a fundamental purpose of the FAA to support the economical resolution of claims.” Id.

The defendants argued that the contractual obligations arising out of ACN’s contract with each IBO equally apply to them under a theory of equitable estoppel, or agency, so the claims must be submitted to arbitration.

The central question for the court to resolve was whether the plaintiffs had in fact agreed to arbitrate any disputes with the defendants under either of the two cited doctrines, since the Trumps were not a party to the plaintiffs-ACN contracts. Additionally, in the event that an agreement was established, the court examined whether the defendants had waived their right to mandatory arbitration of the claims.

On the theory of equitable estoppel, Judge Scholfield wrote that a signatory to an arbitration clause may be compelled to arbitrate a dispute against a non-signatory “where (1) ‘the issues the nonsignatory is seeking to resolve in arbitration are intertwined with the agreement that the estopped party has signed,’ and (2) there is ‘a relationship among the parties of a nature that justifies a conclusion that the party which agreed to arbitrate with another entity should be estopped from denying an obligation to arbitrate a similar dispute’ with the non-signatory.” Id. at 6 (citations omitted).

Because the claim is based upon misleading and unfair statements which allegedly induced the plaintiffs to enter the agreement, Scholfield ruled that the claims are sufficiently intertwined with the agreement.

But the opinion holds that the relationship prong needed to find equitable estoppel is not fulfilled in this case, rejecting the defendants’ proposition that the plaintiffs were aware of the defendants’ paid relationship with ACN.

Rather, the opinion states that the “business relationship was expressly hidden,” and applies Second Circuit precedent denying estoppel to “a defendant aligned with the signatories to allegedly accomplish wrongful business practices”. Id. at 9.

Similarly, the Trump’s failure to disclose their relationship with ACN was central in the court’s reasoning with regard to the agency claim. That basis of the claim was also denied, as arbitration agreements may only apply to non-signatory agents where such agents are disclosed. Id. at 12.

On the waiver, the court examined the time elapsed from the commencement of litigation to the request for arbitration, the amount of litigation to date, and the proof of prejudice. All of these elements, the court explains, lean in favor of the plaintiffs in this case.

The opinion found probative that Trump Corp. notified the court of its intention to arbitrate eight months after the outset of litigation, and after full adjudication of a motion to dismiss; a motion to proceed pseudo-anonymously; multiple motions to seal, and several discovery disputes.

Prejudice is established, the Scholfield explained, where “the defendant seeks to benefit from information obtained through judicial proceedings that would be unavailable in arbitration,” and where the defendants want to “use arbitration as a means of aborting a suit that did not proceed as planned in the District Court.” Id. at 15 (internal citations omitted).

So the case will continue before the Southern District of New York.

Only a day after the order, Bloomberg reported that in a teleconference hearing, Judge Schofield ordered Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, current owner of the Celebrity Apprentice, to release hundreds of hours of unaired footage from the two episodes in which ACN principals were featured. See Erik Larson, “MGM Told to Hand Over Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ Tapes in Scam Suit,” Bloomberg (April 9) (available at https://bloom.bg/3cFNz6q).

* * *

Muenchinger is a CPR Institute Spring 2020 intern, and an LLM student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City.

 

Supreme Court Rejects NFL’s Rams Bid to Arbitrate

By Russ Bleemer

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to hear Rams Football Co., et al. v. St. Louis Regional Convention & Sports Complex Auth., No. 19-672, a case involving a prominent question in the arbitration field.

Rams Football is a Missouri state appeals court case on arbitrability and the so-called delegation clause—the arcane lawyers’ law on who gets to decide whether a case is decided by arbitrators or the courts.

The case had been listed for Friday Court conferences, according to Scotusblog, at least eight times this before the Court turned it down at Friday’s conference, and noted the denial in this morning’s order list.

The CPR Speaks blog discussed Rams Football at length in David Chung, “Under Consideration: The Supreme Court May Be Ready to Tackle Arbitrability–Again” (March 23) (available at https://bit.ly/2wx0Nmf).

The Supreme Court set out the law on delegation clauses in First Options v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938 (1995) (available at http://bit.ly/2WEXGnF)—a case argued and won by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. when he was a Washington, D.C., partner in Hogan & Hartson—which held that courts should review arbitrability and should not assume that the parties agreed to arbitrate arbitrability unless there is clear and unmistakable evidence that they did so.

And the standard has been elusive ever since.

Problems with arbitrability may be growing.  In addition to the Rams Football case, last year’s Supreme Court decision on the subject,  Henry Schein, Inc., et al. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc., 139 S.Ct. 524 (2019) (available at http://bit.ly/2YLDkWQ), was remanded, reheard, decided, and is back before the Court on basically the same issue.

In last year’s decision, the Court held unanimously that parties to a contract have the ultimate say in whether to have an arbitrator or a court resolve disputes on questions of arbitrability.  Schein’s main holding was that a court couldn’t refuse to enforce arbitration because it believed the claims for arbitration were “wholly groundless”; it sent the case back on remand to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the remand decision about the delegation clause is back before the Court for cert consideration.

So far as it is known, the new Schein has not yet made it to the Court’s conference table.  For more on Schein, see Philip J. Loree Jr., “Schein Returns: Scotus’s Arbitration Remand Is Now Back at the Court,” CPR Speaks (Feb. 19) (available at http://bit.ly/3bQXQgl).

See also, Philip J. Loree Jr., “Schein’s Remand Decision Goes Back to the Supreme Court. What’s Next?” 38 Alternatives 54 (April 2020) (available https://bit.ly/3aYy7Sg), and  Richard D. Faulkner & Philip J. Loree Jr., “Schein’s Remand Decision: Should Scotus Review the Provider Rule Incorporation-by-Reference Issue?” 38 Alternatives 70 (May 2020) (available at http://altnewsletter.com/ on May 1).

Late last month, an appellate court in Florida in a split decision trashed the concept of incorporating by a reference to American Arbitration Association rules as “clear and convincing evidence” of parties agreeing to an Internet app clickthrough contract as sending the arbitrability decision to an arbitrator. Doe and Doe v. Natt and Airbnb Inc., Case No. 2D19-1383 (Fla. 2d DCA March 25) (available at https://bit.ly/3byW6r6).

The Rams issue, according to the team’s cert request petition was

Whether the Federal Arbitration Act permits a court to refuse to enforce the terms of an arbitration agreement assigning questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator if those terms would be enforceable under ordinary state-law contract principles in a non-arbitration context.

For now, the Missouri Court of Appeals decision affirming a trial court’s decision denying arbitration and sending the case to trial stands, and the case is remanded to trial.

* * *

Scotusblog’s case page, available at https://bit.ly/2QANwjk, contains the Rams’ cert petition, the respondent’s brief in opposition, and the Rams’ reply.

Russ Bleemer is the editor of Alternatives

COVID-19 & CPR Administered Arbitration

CPR DR Logo_Black Text

The COVID-19 health crisis is causing unprecedented disruptions and damage to the world’s economy and business relationships. Many commercial disputes are surfacing as parties find it impracticable or impossible to perform their contractual obligations.  At the same time, the crisis is also considerably slowing down the resolution of pending court cases, exacerbating the already significant backlog of cases in many courts.

In this context, we would like to remind you that CPR Dispute Resolution and its Case Management Team remain available to assist businesses in these difficult times.

To avoid any delays in the resolution of your dispute, you may want to consider converting a pending court case to a CPR Administered Arbitration.  If your contract already provides for arbitration as the dispute resolution mechanism, but your arbitration clause is no longer appropriate under the circumstances, you may also want to consider using CPR administered arbitration.  In both case, you will need to enter into one of the following arbitration submission agreements with your counterparty:

For a US domestic Dispute:

“We, the undersigned parties, hereby agree to submit to arbitration in accordance with the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”) Rules for Administered Arbitration (the “Administered Rules” or “Rules”) the following dispute:

[Describe briefly]

We further agree that we shall faithfully observe this agreement and the Administered Rules and that we shall abide by and perform any award rendered by the arbitrator(s). The arbitration shall be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq., and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator(s) may be entered by any court having jurisdiction thereof. The place of arbitration shall be (city, state).”

For an international dispute:

“We, the undersigned parties, hereby agree to submit to arbitration in accordance with the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”) Rules for Administered Arbitration of International Disputes (the “Rules”) the following dispute:

[Describe briefly]

We further agree that we shall faithfully observe this agreement and the Rules and that we shall abide by and perform any award rendered by the arbitrator(s). Judgment upon the award may be entered by any court having jurisdiction thereof. The seat of the arbitration shall be (city, country). The language of the arbitration shall be (language).”

Why use CPR Administered Arbitration?

Quality

  • Quality comes from experience – Over the years, CPR’s Distinguished Neutrals have handled more than one trillion dollars in disputes
  • Parties remain in control of the process
  • Peer-reviewed and innovative rules
  • Cases managed by highly experienced, accessible and multilingual attorneys

Efficiency and Lower Costs

  • Time is money – CPR’s Rules have been designed to increase efficiencies, lowering overall costs, benefitting all parties
  • Easy commencement process – No cumbersome paper filing requirements
  • Rapid appointment of the Tribunal, typically within 2-4 weeks
  • Efficient timeline with built-in benchmarks and accountability
  • CPR is a savvy yet unobtrusive administrator, which maximizes direct tribunal-party interaction
  • Mediation/settlement encouraged at any stage
  • Administrative fees based on a scale of amounts at issue, capped at US$34,000, split among the parties, for disputes over US$500 millions
  • Arbitrators free to set up their fees on a case by case basis but must disclose their rates up front during the selection process

Integrity

  • Arbitrators must be independent and neutral
  • Arbitrators must disclose potential conflicts of interest and their availability up front during the selection process
  • Innovative and award winning “Screened Selection Process” for party-appointed arbitrators – Arbitrators are appointed without knowing which party made the selection to enhance neutrality and independence
  • Broad confidentiality applies to all participants: parties, arbitrators and CPR
  • Tribunals must apply the rule of law
  • Awards must be written and reasoned and they are reviewed for format, clerical, typographical or computational errors before being issued by CPR
  • Arbitrator challenges are decided by an independent Challenge Review Panel

CPR’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals comprises those among the most respected and elite arbitrators in the US and around the world. It includes prominent attorneys, retired judges, academics, as well as highly-skilled business executives, legal experts and dispute resolution professionals who are particularly qualified to resolve all business disputes including those involving multi-national corporations or issues of public sensitivity. Focusing in more than 30 practice areas, CPR’s esteemed arbitrators have provided resolutions in thousands of cases  worldwide. Click here for more information about CPR’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals.

FAQs

  • How do I file a case?  To file a case, email your Notice of Arbitration to cprneutrals@cpradr.org.  Include contact information for all parties, including e-mail addresses. You will also need to pay a US$1,750 non-refundable deposit by wire or credit card.  As soon as you file your Notice of Arbitration, CPR will contact you.
  • What are the key features of the 2019 CPR Administered Arbitration Rules? You can click here to learn more about the key features of the rules.
  • How do I find out more about the administrative fees? For the full schedule of fees, visit our website here.
  • How are arbitrator challenges decided? Challenges on the ground of independence and impartiality are decided pursuant to the CPR Challenge Review Protocol.
  • How to I contact the case management team if I have additional questions? Contact Alveen Shirinyans at ashirinyans@cpradr.org or Helena Tavares Erickson at herickson@cpradr.org