Arbitration is similar to a court trial in many ways, yet with several important differences. Arbitration involves a hearing/trial before an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators hired by the parties.
A decision (award) is made by the arbitrator(s) that is generally based on applicable law. Arbitration is essentially a private trial and has been a method for resolving disputes since Greek and Roman times.
Important differences from a court proceeding:
- You create the contract that governs the arbitration process
- You get to pick an arbitrator who is experienced in the subject matter of the dispute
- You can choose to use more relaxed rules of evidence
- You usually get to much quicker resolution of the dispute
- You award is non-appealable, thus eliminating the often extensive and costly appeals process
Moreover, because arbitration is a contractual agreement between disputing parties on how to resolve a dispute, the parties are free to determine the rules and procedures to be used in the arbitration process.
Picking an arbitrator
Most of our trial court judges come from a background of working in the criminal justice system, not from a commercial, business, or family law background. Though they have often acquired extensive experience on the bench and in regional and national workshops, it is often advantageous to find a decision maker whose primary professional background has been in the area that is the subject matter of the dispute.
Since arbitrators do not have to be lawyers, you can choose an arbitrator from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. Often arbitration panels are set up consisting of arbitrators with various backgrounds that have an impact on the subject matter of the dispute. Depending on the preference of the disputing parties, the panel can then base its award on a majority vote of the panel or on a unanimous decision.
Courts have specific rules of procedure for conducting a trial. These include rules governing timing, gathering and submission of information, what evidence can be utilized, and how testimony is going to be presented. In arbitration, the parties can agree to relax or even eliminate these rules, resulting in large savings in time and money.
No matter what the outcome in a court proceeding, there is always the possibility of one or more appeals. Appeals can be costly and time-consuming. In binding arbitration, appeals are not generally allowed
This enables parties to move forward with their lives or businesses without the worry of continued litigation. Having an experienced arbitrator with background and experience with respect to the disputed issues eliminates many of the reasons for which appeals are filed.
Not only can parties agreed to the more common forms of arbitration where decisions are made based on legal principles, other options also are available. An example of this is often referred to as Baseball Arbitration. This form of arbitration is most commonly used where there is a dispute over an amount of money. In Baseball Arbitration, each side submits a dollar figure to the arbitrator and makes their argument why the amount they have submitted is the most appropriate. The arbitrator then must pick which of the two amounts he/she believes is most reasonable and enter that amount as the award.
Arbitration opens many possibilities that are not available in the courtroom. For more information, please contact us at Strategic Resolutions, LLC.
Phone: (414) 640-9750