Similar to mediation, arbitration seeks to resolve a conflict between two disputants without an actual trial. It is a process where both sides come together and agree to follow and respect the decision of the arbitrator. The arbitrator is usually an attorney familiar with the field of law involved. His job is to hear evidence from both parties and decide the possessions to which each party is entitled.
After all parties have been informed of the controversy at issue, an agreement is reached to resolve the matter through arbitration. The parties decide whether the arbitration will be binding or non-binding and then select the arbitrator from a panel of list of available arbitrators. Once the matter has been submitted to the arbitrator (and both sides have paid their respective shares of the arbitrator’s fee), he contacts all the parties involved and schedules the following:
- Date(s) when all the documents must be exchanged
- Date(s) when all the witnesses must be disclosed
- Date(s) when arbitration briefs (written statements covering the facts and the law of the given controversy) are to be submitted
- Date(s) when the hearing will be conducted
At the arbitration hearing, each of the respective parties is allowed to present evidence relevant to the controversy. Opening statements can be presented, but are usually waived since arbitration briefs have already been submitted. Witnesses (including expert witnesses) are examined and cross-examined. Documents and other evidence are submitted. Closing arguments may be presented.
Usually, once all evidence has been submitted to the arbitrator, the matter is taken under submission. This means that the arbitrator plans to take some time to consider all of the evidence that has been presented. After careful review, the arbitrator will issue an award to the party he believes to have the stronger case. After the arbitrator’s award has been issued, the prevailing party has the ability to have it issued as an enforceable order of a court of law. Unless the parties agreed to non-binding arbitration, the award cannot be reviewed by a court, and there cannot be an appeal of the arbitrator’s decision.
The decision whether to enter into arbitration or litigation is an important one. There are many factors to consider and an attorney can advise you on your decision. Furthermore, a business attorney can help you choose an arbitrator that would best fit your situation.