Choosing An Arbitrator

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Who Can Be an Arbitrator?

Generally, anyone can call himself an arbitrator, as there are no certifications or qualifications. Many retired or former judges hold themselves out as arbitrators. The only general requirement is that both parties agree to the person. However, in many fields the arbitrators traditionally chosen are experts in the business or field of law involved. In labor and employment law there are professional arbitrators who have practiced arbitration for many years and have gained the confidence of other professionals.

Are There Situations Where Only Specific Arbitrators May Be Used?

Sometimes an arbitration clause may specify qualifications of potential arbitrators. For example, reinsurance arbitration clauses typically require that the arbitrators be selected from among current or former officers of insurance companies.

How Many Arbitrators Do I Need?

Only one arbitrator is necessary to hear a case. Sometimes an arbitration agreement will provide for three or more neutral arbitrators. However, there must always be an odd number of arbitrators so that a decision can be made by a majority.

How Can I Find an Arbitrator?

Your best source is lawyers in your field who have used arbitration and know about specific arbitrators. There are also alternative dispute resolution directories put out by many bar associations. Industry trade groups may have lists of arbitrators, and the American Arbitration Association provides both a procedure and lists of arbitrators for various types of disputes for a fee.

What Should I Look For In an Arbitrator?

Good arbitrators have experience in running an arbitration hearing, excellent analytical and reasoning skills, good writing skills, and an ability to quickly learn complex matters. The subject matter of your dispute may mean that you want specific expertise in the arbitrator. For instance, cases involving pension trust funds may be better handled by an arbitrator with knowledge of pension and employment law.

How Do I Hire an Arbitrator?

To hire an arbitrator all that it takes is for the parties to agree upon a specific arbitrator and contact that arbitrator to determine if the person is willing to take the case. Where you have agreed to have the arbitration handled according to the rules of a particular association, the association may handle the process for you. For example, the American Arbitration Association has panels of arbitrators. It provides a list of arbitrators, which is sent to the disputing parties. They then choose an acceptable arbitrator from that list.

Do I Need an Attorney's Help in Choosing an Arbitrator?

Technically, you do not need an attorney's assistance in choosing an arbitrator. However, retaining an attorney for the actual arbitration hearing is recommended, as he will be familiar with the basic steps of arbitration and will be necessary to adequately represent your side. In addition, experienced attorneys will likely have specific arbitrators that they trust or can advise you on the best places to look for one.

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Last Modified: 11-26-2013 02:51 PM PST

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