Arbitration can be very simple, but it can also be a voyage to nowhere in the middle of the sea. From the departure to destination, the Tribunal as collective is expected to steer the board. It shall make decisions, either procedural or on merits, by deliberation. But how tribunal deliberations work, particularly in cross-cultural arbitration?
That is certainly a mysterious black-box, because tribunal deliberations are case specific (it depends on the nature of the disputes), tribunal specific (it depends on the composition of the tribunal, the background and profile, and mentality of the presiding arbitrator and its fellows), and the like.
But there are some best practice for efficient deliberations: Not consensus, but collegiality is important: each arbitrator shall actively be involved. Not focusing on the destination, enjoying the voyage: the facts, the issues, the rational behind the disputes are important. Not merely the award, an efficient case management, fairness and due process are also important. Any decision made by the tribunal must not be surprised to the parties. As parties, you shall assist the tribunal deliberations with facts and arguments whenever you can.
Finally, as anywhere, be ready to protect yourself against “toxic arbitrators”. If you feel you are being excluded unfairly from tribunal deliberations, develop an appropriate strategy to protect yourself.