Arbitrators are not bound by precedent and have great leeway in such matters as active participation in the proceedings, Accepting Evidence, Questioning Witnesses, and deciding appropriate remedies. Arbitrators may visit sites outside the hearing room, call expert witnesses, seek out additional evidence, decide whether or not the parties may be represented by Legal Counsel, and perform many other actions not normally within the purview of a court. It is this great flexibility of action, combined with costs usually far below those of traditional litigation, which makes Arbitration so attractive.
Arbitrators have wide latitude in crafting remedies in the arbitral decision, with the only real limitation being that they may not exceed the limits of their authority in their award. An example of exceeding arbitral authority might be awarding one party to a dispute the personal automobile of the other party when the dispute concerns the specific performance of a business-related contract.
It is open to the parties to restrict the possible awards that the arbitrator can make. If this restriction requires a straight choice between the position of one party or the position of the other, then it is known as pendulum arbitration or final offer arbitration. It is designed to encourage the parties to moderate their initial positions so as to make it more likely they receive a favorable decision.
No definitive statement can be made concerning the credentials or experience levels of arbitrators, although some jurisdictions have elected to establish standards for arbitrators in certain fields. Several independent organizations, such as the American Arbitration Association, offer arbitrator training programs and thus in effect, credentials. Generally speaking, however, the credibility of an arbitrator rests upon reputation, experience level in arbitrating particular issues, or expertise/experience in a particular field. Arbitrators are generally not required to be members of the legal profession.
To ensure effective arbitration and to increase the general credibility of the Arbitral Process, arbitrators will sometimes sit as a panel, usually consisting of three arbitrators. Often the three consist of an expert in the legal area within which the dispute falls (such as Contract Law in the case of a dispute over the terms and conditions of a contract), an expert in the industry within which the dispute falls (such as the construction industry, in the case of a dispute between a homeowner and his general contractor), and an Experienced Arbitrator.