Can an Arbitrator Demand a Virtual Hearing?

In light of social distancing required by COVID-19 and the uncertainty as to when it will be safe to congregate in person again, questions abound as arbitrators navigate the shift toward a new digital normal.

The short answer is it depends. 

With rare exceptions, parties who agree to arbitrate their commercial disputes naturally assume the evidentiary hearings will be conducted in person. However, in light of the social distancing required by COVID-19 and the uncertainty as to when it will be safe for parties to congregate in the same room, the only two viable options are to adjourn the proceedings sine die until it’s safe or to move forward and arbitrate virtually.

 That begs the controversial question: If one party insists on arbitrating online and the other resists, can the arbitrator require the recalcitrant party to participate in a virtual arbitration? Read the full article.

Source: The National Law Journal

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