Decision: Explain Yourself

Arbitrators are charged with reviewing contentions and evidence, then writing a clearly worded decision describing their findings. The arbitrator must keep in mind that the standard for liability to be proven is a preponderance of the evidence weighing in favor of the theory of the applicant. Arbitrators are charged with weighing all the evidence and explaining what the evidence tells them, or how the evidence was lacking. All of the possible alternative explanations need not be specifically ruled out for the applicant to prevail. An arbitrator must determine, based on the evidence, whether the applicant’s theory is more likely true than any other alternative explanations proposed by the respondent.

A liability percentage is entered in the Liability Decision section, and an integral part of the explanation is written in the text box located just below the liability percentage. This is where the duties owed and duties breached by each party must be listed.

The What Evidence section (Explanation in Special) near the bottom of the decision form is a place for the arbitrator to clarify the basis of his or her decision. Using AF’s long-standing equation Contentions + Evidence = Fact, arbitrators must look to the evidence to support their conclusions. The parties often reference specific evidence items in their respective contentions.  An arbitrator’s explanation must point to that evidence, what it said, and how it does or does not support the parties’ arguments. The explanation must also include any other evidence that informed the decision. This approach improves the clarity of the decision for the parties to the arbitration and reduces any confusion the parties might have after the decision has been published.