Skip To Content

How Much Does Commercial Arbitration Cost?

Commercial arbitration serves as a vital alternative dispute resolution mechanism for businesses, offering a confidential and expedited avenue for resolving conflicts outside the traditional courtroom setting.

Within the realm of commerce, disputes may arise from contractual disagreements, breaches of agreements, or issues pertaining to transactions and partnerships.

In this overview, we explore the scope, timelines, and costs of arbitrating a commercial dispute, as an alternative to litigating.

The following is a general outline of the scope of possible steps that may be involved in a commercial arbitration case.

It is provided solely for informational purposes as a general rough outline of what to expect when pursuing or defending a commercial dispute through arbitration.

This general outline is provided subject to the following conditions:

  1. This scope is general. It is not specific to any particular case. It is intended to provide a general sense of what steps and effort possibly may be involved in a case. Therefore, it is not intended to be read or relied on as legal advice.
  2. Any particular case may include some or all of the steps listed below, or additional steps not listed below.
  3. Each legal case is unique and will have its own circumstances. Each case will result in different fees and overall costs, depending on many factors, including those listed above.
  4. This general scope is subject to change without notice.


See how Law Works can help you with commercial disputes


What is Involved in Arbitrating a Commercial Dispute


i. Notices – Claim and Response

Scope of pleadings:

  • 1 to 3 days principal, associate lawyer and litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Analysis of key facts in the dispute (initial analysis, to be refined as more evidence becomes available).
  • Analysis of additional facts about key events to draft either a statement of claim or a statement of defense (for fulsome cases).
  • Drafting statement of claim or statement of defence.
  • Initial correspondence with opposing counsel about procedure (for summary proceedings).
  • Guidance on structuring the arbitration process.


ii. Discovery (as agreed between the parties’ lawyers and the arbitrator, or otherwise imposed by the arbitrator)

The following is a fulsome set of discovery steps. The discovery phase in an arbitration proceeding will vary widely based on the nature of the case, the parties’ agreement on how to most effectively streamline the discovery phase and the arbitrator’s order.

As a result, some or all of these steps may be significantly different, possibly more limited, depending on the arbitration case.

There are usually three to four phases in discovery.

Discovery Phase 1: Planning and Preparation

Scope of Phase 1:

  • ½ day to 1 ½ days principal or associate lawyer
  • 3 days litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Preparing Documentary Productions – compiling and producing all evidence in the client’s possession control or within their power relevant to any issue in the case (and providing to opposing counsel).
  • Preparing Discovery Plan.
  • Analyzing the other party’s Documentary Productions for deficiencies.
  • Communications with the other parties about scope of Documentary Productions of each side.

Discovery Phase 2: Witness Examination/Questioning

Scope of Phase 2:

  • 4 to 5 days principal or associate lawyer
  • Plus time by litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Preparing for and conducting witness examinations/questioning plus preparation and discussions.
  • Preparing clients for, and attending, their witness examinations/questioning plus preparations and discussions.
  • This can include disbursements for court reporter charges at addition cost for attendance at the examination/questioning or preparation of transcripts of witness examinations/questioning.

Discovery Phase 3: Answering Undertakings Given at Witness Examination/Questioning

Scope of Phase 3:

  • ½ day to 1 ½ day principal (and associate lawyer where needed)
  • 1 ½ days to 3 days litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Answering undertakings given at examinations/questioning for discovery to provide further evidence.
  • Reviewing the other side’s answers to undertakings.
  • Dealing with refusals given by each side at examinations for discovery.

Discovery Phase 4 (if applicable): Resolving Disputes About Documentary Productions or Refusals

Scope of Phase 4:

  • 1 to 4 days
  • Principal or associate lawyer and litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Disputes about scope of Documentary Productions and refusals given at examinations/questioning for discovery.


iii. Mediation

Scope of mediation:

  • 1 ½ to 3 days principal (and associate lawyer where needed)
  • ½ day to 2 days litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Preparing mediation brief and attending one day mediation session.
  • Meditator’s fees are charged at additional cost.

Note: mediation can take place at any time in the arbitration process, typically after the Discovery phases.


iii. Motion/Application/Case Conferences

Key activities include:

  • These can take place at any point in the arbitration process.
  • Case conferences are with opposing counsel and arbitrator.
  • Standard motion/application/application: 1-5 days*
  • Injunction motions or motions for summary judgement: 7 to 20 days*

* This includes time for preparing for and attending witness examinations/questioning which can be significant.

iv. Arbitration Hearing – this scope is for a 10-day hearing

Scope of a hearing:

Preparation and hearing attendance:

  • 19 days to 25 days principal and associate lawyer
  • 6 to 10 days litigation clerk.

Key activities include:

  • Preparing all evidence and exhibits for the arbitration hearing, lining up witnesses, and preparing legal arguments and submissions.
  • Preparing for arbitration hearing.
  • Preparing opening submissions, witness examinations, closing submissions.
  • Attending arbitration hearing.

Arbitrator’s fees (which are additional) are split between the two sides and tend to be significant, based on the arbitrator’s hourly rate and the length of all steps in the arbitration, in addition the arbitrator’s time to review documents and prepare reasons.


See also: How Much Does Commercial Litigation Cost?