On June 25, 2020, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section co-sponsored with JAMS a live webinar featuring an interactive mock virtual arbitration of a commercial dispute. The Hon. Ariel E. Belen, arbitrator/mediator at JAMS and former Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, led advocates and parties through a hypothetical virtual arbitration using an online platform (Zoom). Due to travel restrictions and social distancing imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, conducting arbitration by videoconference has emerged as an attractive solution to move forward with a pending arbitration, rather than submitting the case on the papers or postponing the hearing to a future date. In light of this recent trend, the one-hour webinar aimed at providing an opportunity to explore attorneys’ most pressing questions and concerns regarding remote arbitration and offered first-hand exposure to the online hearing environment.
1. Prehearing Conference Call via Zoom -
As a first step, Hon. Belen, acting as arbitrator, conducted a pre-hearing videoconference through Zoom, a popular online platform that can be used for arbitrations and mediations of various sizes. The purpose of the conference was to hear from counsel for each side whether they were amenable to virtual arbitration. Hon. Belen informed the parties of his authority to order them to proceed with video-conferenced arbitration based on Rule 22(g) of the JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rules & Procedures, which states that “The hearing, or any portion thereof, may be conducted telephonically or videographically with the agreement of the Parties or at the discretion of the Arbitrator.” He noted that Rule 22(g) has been in effect since 2014 and was not created specifically as a result of the pandemic. Moreover, he indicated that the rule has been used in the past to introduce video deposition testimony, typically from third parties, in numerous hearings.
Originally published in NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter | Fall 2020 | Vol. 26 | No. 2.
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