In June 2021, the Swiss Arbitration Association (“ASA”) published the ASA Arbitration Toolbox, a free, interactive platform that guides users through the various steps of an international commercial arbitration via the help of questionnaires, diagrams, practical tips, as well as downloadable sample documents.
The ASA Arbitration Toolbox is available online here. In order to access the Toolbox, users need to create a free account, using a valid email address (through which they will be asked to activate their account) and a password.
Aim and Scope of the ASA Arbitration Toolbox
The ASA notes that the aim of its Toolbox is “to assist arbitration practitioners in the organization and conduct of arbitration proceedings.” The Toolbox may also be of help to commercial parties, as well as students, who wish to get acquainted with the arbitral process and receive information about commonly-asked questions, such as how to initiate an international arbitration, how to find the right arbitrator, and the procedural steps of a typical arbitration.
The Toolbox is a generic tool, covering all types of commercial arbitrations, be they institutional or ad hoc, and it is not tailored to any particular seat of arbitration. The Toolbox also features on the UNCITRAL website, supplementing the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which are also designed to assist arbitration practitioners to formulate decisions during the course of arbitral proceedings, be they institutional or ad hoc.
For the time being, the Toolbox does not cover investor-State arbitrations; nevertheless, the ASA has expressed its intention to expand its use to investor-State arbitrations in the future.
The Toolbox emphasizes that arbitration is a party-driven process, where parties can and should tailor the arbitral proceedings to their own individual needs. While using the Toolbox, ASA also reminds users to pay “due attention” to (1) any specific rules agreed by the parties in their arbitration agreement, (2) the law of the seat, as well as (3) any applicable arbitration rules (such as the ICC Arbitration Rules, the LCIA Arbitration Rules, or the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules), which are the primary reference points for determining how an arbitration is to be conducted.
Structure of the ASA Arbitration Toolbox
The ASA Arbitration Toolbox is divided into eight main Sections, as follows: (1) Commencement (of Arbitration); (2) Organization (of Proceedings); (3) Written Phase; (4) Fact Witnesses; (5) Expert Witnesses; (6) Hearing; (7) Interim Measures; and (8) Awards.
Each Section is subdivided into different Steps, guiding the users through the arbitration process, with the help of an interactive questionnaire. An example is shown below, for instance, with respect to the decision on whether to hold an oral hearing:
Each Section also contains a downloadable PDF file called a “Decision Tree”, which is a diagram of the questions, topics, as well as possible answers and options available in each Step. This is illustrated below, using the same example regarding the need for an oral hearing:
The Toolbox also contains several sample documents available for download, including a sample Request for Arbitration, a sample Witness Statement, a sample Expert Report, sample Procedural Rules, and a sample Final Award. There are also guiding notes and practical tips for drafting expert reports and witness statements.
Users can also use the search function to search for any term in the Toolbox, and by clicking on a specific result they can be transferred to the relevant part:
In sum, the ASA Arbitration Toolbox is an interesting, free, and interactive tool for practitioners, as well as interested parties of all levels of experience, who may wish to acquire information about the arbitration process in a modern and easily digestible format.