Essential roles of arbitration case managers

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Essential roles of arbitration case managers
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Procedural justice holds significant value in arbitration and case managers, who provide procedural management services to parties, play a crucial role in ensuring that they experience both procedural and substantive justice.

This is especially relevant because, even when substantive judgements are based on the law and free from impropriety, procedural injustice and inappropriate conduct can affect the recognition and respect of the parties and the public towards the awards, making it challenging to achieve the desired social impact.

Given that case managers are the primary source through which all parties involved experience and perceive the arbitration process, they can make efforts in the following aspects:

Cultivating rule awareness and upholding work norms and personal integrity. Arbitration rules and case handling norms serve as both work guidelines for a case manager and the fundamental principles for maintaining procedural impartiality and neutrality.

Firstly, where case managers encounter close relatives or individuals with close contacts as parties or agents in a case, or if they identify any conflicts of interest, they should promptly disclose these circumstances to the institution and withdraw from the case.

Secondly, case managers must strictly adhere to confidentiality rules, refraining from disclosing case information to third parties or revealing the arbitrator’s hearing opinions to the parties.

Lastly, it is crucial for case managers to treat all parties equally in terms of service attitude, striking a balance between being neither servile nor overbearing, while maintaining a demeanour that is polite and patient.

Building an information bridge with timely transmission and exchange of material notifications. Although arbitration cases are confidential to the public, the advancement of the same case procedure should be open and transparent to all parties.

As the “summary and transit station” for the parties’ opinions, cases managers should timely forward the relevant materials and opinions submitted by one party to the other parties. Procedural notices and documents directed towards concerned parties should also be sent simultaneously in the same form, ensuring equal access to information.

In particular, when addressing significant procedural matters such as prompting arbitrator selection, seeking opinions on the composition of the arbitration tribunal, and communicating the time and method of hearing, case managers should actively engage with the concerned parties, listening to their opinions and needs.

Mastering key steps and taking into account all parties involved in both pre-trial and post-trial proceedings. The hearing procedure stands as the core element within the entire process of advancing an arbitration case, serving as the most tangible link for parties to gauge the impartiality and neutrality of the arbitration process. Therefore, case managers should possess prior knowledge of and disclose the means of attendance of the parties before the hearing.

The Arbitration Rules of Beijing Arbitration Commission, effective since 1 February 2022, have introduced relevant provisions on online hearings, offering more diverse channels for parties’ participation in hearings and enhancing convenience.

Despite the advancement, in practice, there are still circumstances where one party participates in a hearing on-site, while the other party participates online. Such arrangements, due to inconvenience to present evidence or other reasons, may lead to dissatisfaction from either party with the hearing procedures and ultimately affect the case’s substantive hearing.

To prevent such scenarios, case managers can disclose or confirm to the parties the specific method of hearing, proactively addressing potential problems, risks and providing corresponding solutions in advance. This enables the parties to make an informed judgement and select a participation method that best suits the case and their own circumstances.

Developing professional knowledge and keeping pace with the latest international practices. As administrators of case procedures, case managers must have a solid foundation in jurisprudence and maintain a professional exploratory spirit, particularly when confronted with increasingly complex and diverse cases.

Laws and regulations constantly evolve and improve alongside societal development, while arbitration practices are enriched within the context of Chinese arbitration institutions’ journey of internationalisation.

Only by constantly expanding their professional knowledge and synthesising practical experience can case managers gain a better grasp of the core meanings of various legal rules and principles, comprehend the underlying logic of different regulations, and develop a more accurate understanding of the requirements of impartiality and neutrality in specific cases.

At the same time, case managers should keep abreast of the latest international arbitration practices, actively experimenting with and implementing cutting-edge methods. This not only allows domestic arbitration users to experience different arbitration approaches, but also facilitates international arbitration users in conducting arbitration in a familiar way.

Walking a fine line and preventing impartiality and neutrality from becoming mere formalities. As the link and bridge of communication among the parties to a case, case managers should leverage their subjective initiative to assist parties in resolving contradictions and disputes within the boundaries defined by rules and norms.

In conclusion, the impartiality and neutrality of case managers extend beyond adherence to laws, regulations, arbitration rules and relevant codes of conduct. It crucially involves the subtleties of their daily communication and interactions with the parties. Given the parties’ increasing emphasis on and pursuit of procedural justice, the professional and service level of case managers face heightened demands.

When case managers effectively convey a sense of impartiality and neutrality during the proceedings, it not only helps prevent objections from the parties and reduces case risks but also facilitates effective resolution of conflicts and disputes. By enhancing the parties’ experience of participating in the arbitration proceedings, case managers will further improve the credibility of arbitration.


Yang Lu is a case manager at the Beijing Arbitration Commission/Beijing International Arbitration Centre

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