This article outlines a number of situations, illustrated by practical and thus far unpublished cases, in which parties requested arbitral tribunals to decide on a stay of the arbitration proceedings. The most frequently invoked reason that would justify a stay is the existence of on-going parallel proceedings. A number of other circumstances can also lead the parties to apply for a stay, e.g., pending payment of security for costs or clarification of the opposing party’s representation.
As the reviewed cases demonstrate, arbitral tribunals have no legal obligation to grant a stay and exercise a full and unfettered discretion to decide whether a stay request is well-founded. In principle, a stay will only be granted if exceptional reasons or circumstances exist. There are four guiding criteria that would be generally taken into account by arbitral tribunals when seized with a stay request. First, the external circumstances must have a clear impact on the arbitration. Second, the interests and intentions of the parties to the arbitration must be assessed with due regard to the principles of fairness and due process. Third, a stay should not negatively affect procedural efficiency. Finally, arbitral tribunals must ensure that the proceedings will be conducted without any undue delay.