Does the press have a right to “sit in on” arbitrations?

Private sector arbitration is ordinarily a matter of contract between parties. As such, it is a private proceeding from which the press may be excluded by the parties. Most parties as a matter of practice allow only those persons with a direct interest in the proceeding to attend. Parties may require the sequestration (separation) of witnesses during the testimony of other witnesses during a proceeding. Generally, in such situations individual grievants are entitled to remain in the hearing, notwithstanding sequestration.

Whether the press has the right to be present for public sector arbitration hearings (that is, hearings between a government agency and a union representing its employees or between a government agency and an individual employee) over the objection of one or both parties is generally determined by governing “sunshine” or “open meeting” laws. In some jurisdictions, public sector arbitration hearings are covered by such laws that will allow any member of the public to attend. If not covered or if there is dispute as to coverage, press attendance may be allowed only pursuant to a court order.