When trade secrets and other confidential information become the focus of business disputes, parties often choose to pursue claims in arbitration rather than in courts. Although traditional litigation affords parties the ability to keep certain information confidential (i.e., not filed in the public record), arbitration rules typically allow parties to maintain the confidentiality of the dispute, including discovery, evidence, and the outcome of the proceeding.

But arbitration carries additional benefits. Arbitrators are often selected because of their technical, scientific, or other expertise in the field relevant to the dispute, which helps parties have confidence in the proceeding and the decision. Arbitration is considered more expeditious; that is, claims generally move faster to resolution than they do in court, and some arbitration agreements adopt very limited grounds for appeal, which lends finality to the decision. Although it’s not always the case, often the shorter the duration the claim is pending, the less expensive it is for the parties. And, for cross-border disputes involving parties from different countries, an international arbitration tribunal can help alleviate concerns about potential favoritism and language barriers.

All these considerations were in play when we represented a distributor against a manufacturer in an international arbitration hearing and appeal. The parties had negotiated a contractual arbitration clause requiring all disputes to be decided by a particular international arbitration tribunal. It took less than a year for the dispute—which involved multiple claims and counterclaims with millions of dollars at issue—to reach the evidentiary hearing. After post-hearing briefing, the arbitrator panel issued its ruling in our client’s favor.

The manufacturer appealed the decision to the international arbitration’s appellate division, which heard oral arguments within a few months and issued its ruling affirming the original panel’s decision soon thereafter.