How Long Is the Arbitration Process? Tips to Speed It Up

how long is the arbitration process

How Long Is the Arbitration Process: Understanding Arbitration

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is becoming increasingly popular among businesses and individuals. It involves a neutral third party, an arbitrator, who hears evidence from both sides and makes a binding decision. Unlike litigation, arbitration is often faster, cheaper, and more flexible. However, it’s essential to understand the arbitration process before agreeing to it.

Arbitration clauses are commonly found in contracts and agreements between parties. They specify which arbitral institution will administer the arbitration and how many arbitrators will be involved. The discovery process in arbitration can be less extensive than in litigation, and there may be fewer hearings.

The time it takes to complete an arbitration depends on several factors, such as the case’s complexity, the number of parties involved, and whether or not there are any appeals. According to SCC Arbitration statistics from 2020, the average time for an SCC Arbitration was 12 months from filing to award.

Factors Affecting the Length of Arbitration

Complexity of the Case

One of the most significant factors affecting the length of an arbitration process is the case’s complexity. The more complex a case is, the longer it takes to resolve. Complex cases require extensive research, analysis, and interpretation of evidence before a final award can be made. Moreover, complex cases may involve multiple legal issues that need to be addressed individually, which can further prolong the process.

Number of Parties Involved in the Dispute

Another critical factor influencing how long an arbitration process takes is the number of parties involved. Arbitration involving multiple parties typically takes longer than those with only two parties. Each party must have ample time to present their arguments and evidence fully. When more than two parties are involved, scheduling hearings and meetings can become more difficult as everyone’s availability needs to be considered.

Availability and Schedules of Arbitrators

The availability and schedules of arbitrators also play a crucial role in determining how long an arbitration process will take. If there are limited numbers of arbitrators available or if they have busy schedules, delays can occur due to difficulties finding suitable dates for hearings or meetings. Furthermore, some arbitrators may need more time to review evidence or may take longer to make a decision than others.

In addition to these three primary factors mentioned above, there are other different factors that can affect how long an arbitration process will take:

  • Arbitrator Selection: The selection process for arbitrators can also affect how long it takes for a dispute to be resolved through arbitration.

  • Deadlines: The presence or absence of deadlines in an arbitration agreement can impact its duration.

  • Fee: The cost associated with hiring an arbitrator(s) or administering arbitral proceedings could influence whether one party decides against pursuing arbitration altogether.

  • Field:

Average Timeframe for Different Types of Cases

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that involves a neutral third party who makes a decision on the matter. One of the most common questions people have about arbitration is how long it takes.

Commercial cases take longer than consumer cases

On average, commercial cases may take longer to resolve than consumer cases due to their complexity and larger sums of money involved. The average time duration for commercial arbitration is around 14 months, with some cases lasting up to two years or more, depending on the arbitrator and party involved.

Employment cases are usually resolved faster than other types

Employment cases are generally less complex and involve smaller sums of money than other arbitration cases. As a result, they are often resolved faster. The median duration for employment arbitration is around six months, with some cases being resolved in as little as four weeks.

Construction cases can take up to a year or more

Construction disputes can be complex and may involve multiple parties, such as contractors, subcontractors, owners, and architects. As a result, construction arbitrations can take longer to resolve than other types of disputes. On average, construction arbitrations last around 12-18 months.

Strategies for Streamlining the Arbitration Process

Choosing an Experienced Arbitrator

One of the most important steps in streamlining the arbitration process is to choose an experienced arbitrator. An experienced arbitrator can help parties navigate the arbitration process efficiently and effectively. They have a deep understanding of the arbitration process, including the rules and procedures that govern it, and can quickly identify and resolve any issues that arise.

When selecting an arbitrator, it’s essential to consider their experience, qualifications, and reputation. Look for someone with experience in your specific industry or area of law. This will enable them to understand the nuances of your case better and make informed decisions.

Limiting Discovery Requests

Another way to streamline the arbitration process is by limiting discovery requests. Unlike litigation, where discovery can be extensive and time-consuming, arbitration allows parties to limit discovery requests. This means that parties can focus on obtaining only essential information necessary for their case.

To limit discovery requests, parties should agree on a scope of discovery at the outset of arbitration. They should also consider using alternative methods such as written interrogatories or document requests instead of depositions.

Using Technology to Facilitate Communication

Technology can play a crucial role in streamlining the arbitration process by facilitating communication between parties and their attorneys. Parties can use various tools like video conferencing software or online dispute resolution platforms to communicate with each other efficiently.

By using technology, parties save time on travel expenses associated with physical meetings. They also reduce delays caused by scheduling conflicts between parties’ attorneys.

Institutions offering arbitral services are increasingly adopting technology-based solutions like e-filing systems that make submission of documents more accessible than before.

Conclusion: The Pros and Cons of Arbitration

In conclusion, the length of the arbitration process can vary depending on several factors such as the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the availability of arbitrators. While arbitration offers a faster resolution than traditional litigation, it also has its drawbacks such as limited discovery and appeal rights.

To streamline the arbitration process, parties can consider using strategies such as selecting a sole arbitrator instead of a panel, limiting the number of witnesses and documents presented, and setting strict deadlines for each stage of the process.

Overall, arbitration can be a beneficial alternative to traditional litigation if parties are willing to compromise some procedural rights in exchange for speedier resolution. However, it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to pursue arbitration.


Q: Is arbitration always faster than litigation?

Not necessarily. The duration of an arbitration process depends on various factors such as complexity and availability of arbitrators.

Q: Can I appeal an arbitral award?

A: Generally no. One downside to arbitration is that there are limited grounds for appeal compared to traditional litigation.

Q: What types of cases are typically resolved through arbitration?

A: Commonly commercial disputes, employment disputes or consumer disputes are resolved through arbitration.

Q: How do I choose an arbitrator?

A: Parties can agree on an arbitrator or use an organization’s list of approved arbitrators. It is important to choose someone who is impartial and experienced in handling similar cases.

Q: Is confidentiality maintained during an arbitral proceeding?

A: Yes. Unlike court proceedings which are generally open to public access ,arbitration proceedings are private and confidential unless otherwise agreed by both parties.