What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is the settlement of a dispute of law, fact, or procedure by way of a neutral arbitrator contracted for by the parties. Arbitration involves a single impartial third party or a panel of three to render a decision of an issue based on the merits of the case. Parties may agree to either one arbitrator or a panel of three in order to save time and expenses. The most important factor in a successful arbitration is the choice of arbitrator. Above all else an arbitrator must be someone who is fair minded and impartial. As a Supreme Court Trained Arbitrator I strive for impartiality and an efficient process for my clients.
The Benefits of Arbitration
Arbitration is typically far less expensive than a legal proceeding. Florida statute governs arbitration, regulating the daily fee an arbitrator may charge. In a recent trend, many trial attorneys are requesting the court to order non-binding arbitration when it is believed the costs of litigation will be unduly burdensome to their client or the costs will outweigh the award itself.
Many do not have the resources to allow their dispute to drag on for months typical in a court resolution setting. Arbitration is an informal process thus arbitration is much faster than arguing a claim in the court of law. There is no overfilled docket, motions to file, nor court calendars to adhere to, rather a simple appointment is all that is necessary in order to begin the process. Many disputes will be resolved in a single day.
Arbitration versus Legal Proceeding
Unlike a legal proceeding, parties agree or contract to participate in arbitration to avoid legal fees and court costs. An arbitrator may act as a judge in the particular dispute however is not an actual judge of the court. If one decides to dishonor the verdict of an arbitration, the matter can then be disputed in the court of law as a breach of contract matter. Typical rules of evidence or discovery do not apply to arbitration as they do in trial. During arbitration, facts are regularly presented through documents and counsel arguments limiting the need for live witness testimony.
Arbitration versus Mediation
Arbitration differs from mediation for an arbitrator will impose a resolution upon the parties much like a judge. Mediation however, is aimed at guiding parties to a resolution. A proper mediator will never impose a resolution upon the parties although a mediated agreement that the parties have agreed to is binding.
Parties may contract to handle any disputes through arbitration rather than a formal legal proceeding. For example, many apartment lease agreements or storage unit contracts carry an arbitration clause stating any dispute involving the premises, lease, or issues of payment be evaluated through arbitration. Even if parties have not contracted to resolve a dispute through arbitration, once a dispute arises, parties may choose arbitration rather than a formal legal proceeding.
Non-binding arbitration is utilized more and more as court dockets rapidly fill. Many court appointed non-binding arbitrations stem from a failure to mediate a claim and the court intends to show one or both litigants a remedy is still available. The court may not order litigants into binding arbitration for doing so would violate the party's constitutional right of access to the formal court system. Here, if the either party disagrees with the arbitration process or even the result, the litigants retain the right to have the matter brought before the Court. Rejection of the arbitration process will typically be more costly. In the event of rejection, both parties are obligated to the arbitration and now litigation costs. One point to also keep in mind, if the award granted by the court is less than the award granted through arbitration, the objecting party must then pay the opposing party's litigation and attorneys fees.
Session and Pricing:
Each arbitration session is allotted the whole day, from 9:30 am to 5 pm with an hour break for lunch. Each session will be $1,300.00. If a session is needed within one week, an expedited process is available for $1,500.00.