When a party fails to attend an arbitration hearing the arbitrator, before proceeding with the hearing and a default judgement, is obligated to satisfy himself/herself that the absent party was notified of the hearing. However, how far is the arbitrator obligated to go in order to satisfy himself/herself of this? Is it sufficient that arbitrators merely check the file for a notification sent to the party? Or is the arbitrator obligated to establish whether the address to which the notification was sent was correct? Is the arbitrator further obligated to establish whether the party’s electronic system (e.g. email system) was functional at the time that the notice of set down was transmitted?
The arbitrator’s duty is to make all reasonable efforts to contact the absent party and to find out the reason for the absence. Some of the examples referred to in the question would be reasonable efforts to satisfy the duty. It would not be reasonable to expect an arbitrator to apply some of the other examples – such as establishing if the party’s electronic system was working.