The notary system in Japan is an organization of state licensed notary agents who provide official certification for contracts and other legal matters. By having a notary certify the signing of a contract, the issue of the executing the contract cannot be litigated in court as the notary’s certification removes all doubt that the parties signed the agreement in question. In this way, the notary system reducing the number of contract disputes that end up in litigation.
Similar to a lawsuit in court, parties to an arbitration are allowed to have legal counsel represent their interests to the panel of arbitrators. However, while legal representation in litigation is limited to attorneys licensed in Japan, there is no rule in the Arbitration Act preventing foreign lawyers from representing clients in an arbitration.
Summary courts in Japan are the equivalent of small claims courts in America. In general, these courts will only hear cases with a monetary value of 600,000 yen or less. Cases brought in this court are intended to be smaller and less complex, which is reflected in the relatively low limit on the size of the claims and the simplified trial procedure.
While arbitration provides a cost effective and faster alternative to filing a lawsuit in court, there are some similarities between the two systems. Two of the biggest similarities are the way notice is served and the participation of expert witnesses.