Legal Article

A Comprehensive Guide to Arbitral Proceedings: What to Expect from Start to Finish

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow


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Published on: 21 Aug, 2023


Arbitral proceedings serve as the backbone for dispute resolution in the realm of arbitration. Unlike court litigation, arbitral proceedings offer a more flexible, faster, and often confidential path to resolve disputes between parties. Understanding the steps and procedures involved is essential for anyone considering arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism. This guide aims to walk you through the stages of arbitral proceedings from start to finish.

Preliminary Matters

Arbitration Agreement

Before arbitral proceedings can commence, there must be an arbitration agreement between the parties involved. This agreement usually defines the scope of disputes that can be arbitrated, the number of arbitrators, the seat of arbitration, and other procedural guidelines.

Notice of Arbitration

The party initiating the arbitration (Claimant) typically issues a notice of arbitration to the opposing party (Respondent). The notice often outlines the details of the dispute, the claims being made, and may propose an arbitrator.

Selection of Arbitrators

Depending on the arbitration agreement, either a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators (often three) will be chosen. Parties might select arbitrators themselves, or a third-party institution may do so if the parties can’t agree.

Commencement of Proceedings

Terms of Reference

Once the tribunal is constituted, a “Terms of Reference” document is usually drafted to outline the scope of the dispute, the issues to be determined, and procedural rules to be followed.

Procedural Timetable

An initial procedural conference is often held to finalize the timetable for the proceedings, including deadlines for submissions, evidence presentation, and hearings.

Case Statements

Both parties submit their written arguments:

  • Statement of Claim: The Claimant lays out the facts of the case, the legal arguments, and the relief sought.
  • Statement of Defense: The Respondent provides their own version of the facts and defends against the claims made.

Presentation of Evidence

Document Discovery

Parties may request relevant documents from each other, subject to the tribunal’s approval.

Witness Statements and Expert Reports

Parties may present witness statements and, in complex cases, expert reports to support their arguments.


Oral hearings may be conducted for witness cross-examination and for oral arguments, although some arbitrations proceed on documents alone.

Award and Closing of Proceedings

Deliberation and Award

After the conclusion of hearings and submissions, the tribunal deliberates and issues an arbitral award. The award outlines the tribunal’s findings, reasons, and any relief granted.


The award is generally enforceable in most jurisdictions, subject to certain limited grounds for annulment or refusal of enforcement under national laws or international conventions like the New York Convention.


Typically, the arbitral award also determines which party will bear the costs of arbitration or how the costs will be shared.

Confidentiality and Transparency

Arbitral proceedings are often confidential, but the level of confidentiality can vary depending on the rules governing the arbitration and any agreements between the parties.


Arbitral proceedings offer a structured yet flexible framework for dispute resolution. While the specific procedures may vary depending on the jurisdiction, arbitration institution, or agreement between the parties, the core steps remain relatively standard. Being familiar with the general flow of arbitral proceedings can help parties navigate the complexities of arbitration more effectively.


This article is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal professionals for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.


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