The American Arbitration Association ("AAA") has announced on its website that it is offering a "Streamlined Three-Arbitrator Panel Option" for large, complex cases. It's a fresh idea that is worthy of parties' consideration in cases where the rules (see Section L-2(a)) or the parties' agreement requires a panel of three arbitrators to hear and decide the case. The Streamlined Three-Arbitrator Panel Option allows a single arbitrator to work with the parties in moving the case through the preliminary and discovery stages. A full panel participates in the evidentiary hearing and in rendering the final award.
The American Arbitration Association recently released Optional Appellate Arbitration Rules, which aim to provide parties with an opportunity to have appeals of an arbitral award heard within the arbitration process itself. Typically, applications to vacate arbitral awards are heard in courts, and the grounds for vacatur are quite limited pursuant to federal and state arbitration statutes.
In an important development, the American Arbitration Association has revised its Commercial Arbitration Rules to include a host of changes that seek to streamline arbitration and make the process more cost-effective and tightly managed. The rules, which can be found here, are amended and effective as of October 1, 2013. As a result, practitioners filing new arbitration claims that will be governed by the Commercial Arbitration Rules will need to familiarize themselves with the revisions, as they provide significant changes in the process. Litigators should also note that parties to ICDR proceedings may choose to use these rules instead of the ICDR International Arbitration Rules.