B. Main Characteristics of Arbitration
Comparing arbitration with state court proceedings is probably the easiest way to understand international commercial arbitration. Both types of proceedings share numerous similarities. For instance, they have in common that there is a conflict between two or more parties which is solved by means of a decision of a deciding authority. This decision is binding on the parties and can be enforced. Furthermore, the proceedings normally consist of roughly the same stages; namely the initiation of the proceeding, the submission of written memoranda, one or more oral hearings, the taking of evidence and a final conclusion of the deciding authority.
Yet, there are also essential differences which can make a fundamental difference to the way the proceedings are conducted and to the outcome of the proceedings. Most important, unlike in state court proceedings, any arbitration requires the consent of the parties to have their dispute resolved by an arbitral tribunal. Some other differences are that in most cases the parties can influence the composition of the arbitral tribunal and that there are only limited means to attack an arbitral award once it is rendered.
The following section shall give a short overview over the main characteristics of international commercial arbitration. Some of them, however, will be explained later on in more detail in a different context.