Frequently Asked Questions - Arbitration
WHAT IS ARBITRATION?
Binding arbitration is a means of resolving a dispute that is private, less formal, less costly and less time-consuming than traditional litigation. The parties agree to submit their dispute to an impartial arbitrator authorized to resolve the controversy by rendering a final and binding award. A matter may proceed to arbitration usually in a matter of months, instead of the several years it may take to have a case heard in court.
The matter is heard in a conference room, as opposed to a courtroom. Courtroom rules of evidence are not strictly applicable, and there is usually no significant motion practice. Formal rules of discovery do not apply, although the arbitrator may allow for some discovery, such as production of relevant documents and depositions under oath. There is no requirement of written transcripts of the proceedings.
WHAT IS THE ARBITRATOR'S ROLE?
The arbitrator acts as a private judge, and will make a ruling that is binding on the parties. If deemed necessary, the decision is enforceable in a court of competent jurisdiction.
WHAT IS MY ROLE AT THE ARBITRATION?
Although it is more informal than traditional litigation, arbitration is an adversarial process. You will be required to present your case by calling witnesses and presenting documentary evidence, and making arguments to persuade the arbitrator that he or she should rule in your favor.
HOW MUCH DOES ARBITRATION COST?
The cost will vary depending on the arbitrator’s fee, the complexity of the case, and the length of the arbitration. Arbitrators will charge the parties for pre-hearing conferences and review of documents, as well as time spent preparing the award. There may also be an administrative expense if the parties go through the American Arbitration Association. The arbitrator’s final award may assign the burden of paying attorney’s fees, the amount of the judgment, and/or other costs to the appropriate party.
HOW LONG DOES ARBITRATION LAST?
It usually takes several months for parties to do the necessary discovery and other work to prepare for an arbitration. The hearing itself will last anywhere from one day to a week or more.
IS THE PROCESS CONFIDENTIAL?
The proceedings are private and not open to the public. There is no transcript of the proceedings unless one party chooses to incur the expense of obtaining a transcript. All persons permitted to be present, such as the parties and their representatives, and witnesses who have completed their testimony, are allowed to hear the testimony of other witnesses, which is given under oath. The final decision of the arbitrator is confidential, unless a party finds it necessary to enforce the decision in court.
DO I NEED A LAWYER?
You do not necessarily need a lawyer, though you may deem it advisable to retain one, since the process is adversarial in nature. The expenses of retaining your own lawyer must be borne by you.
DO I GIVE UP ANY RIGHTS BY AGREEING TO BINDING ARBITRATION?
Yes, you give up the right to have your dispute heard by a judge or a jury in the court system. You do not give up the right to bring your claim before the EEOC, which may choose to pursue the matter on its own.
WHO WILL THE ARBITRATOR BE?
The Arbitrator will be someone that both parties agree to. You may obtain a list from the American Arbitration Association of impartial, qualified employment arbitrators in your area, or you may simply agree to an arbitrator the parties choose together. A person who has served as a Mediator may not later serve as an Arbitrator, absent written agreement of the parties.
HOW DO I INITIATE AN ARBITRATION?
If you have signed a contract already containing an arbitration clause, you should read and follow the requirements in the contract. If the parties have already agreed to arbitrate, simply contact us by phone at 602-284-4287 or fill out the information on the “contact” page of the website. We will be in touch with you to provide further information and contact involved parties at your request. Or, you may contact the American Arbitration Association directly, at www.adr.org.
WHAT IF I AM UNHAPPY WITH THE ARBITRATOR'S DECISION - IS THERE ANY APPEAL PROCESS?
Under a few limited circumstances, such as after-discovered bias on the part of the arbitrator, arbitrary and capricious decisions, or newly-discovered evidence, a party may ask the arbitrator to reconsider the decision, or appeal to a court to overturn a decision.
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