by Robin L. Berry

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is the process of resolution of a dispute by one or more impartial persons who after hearing the evidence in a case makes a decision which is given to the parties.

Is Arbitration binding?

Arbitration may be binding or non-binding. In California binding arbitration is conducted pursuant to California Arbitration Law (Title 9 of the Code of Civil Procedures Section 1280 et. seq.). Under this provision, the hearing is a semi-formal proceeding. The arbitrator's decision is called an award and the award is enforceable through the court system.

How do I get to arbitration?

Parties may agree to arbitration either at the point of dispute or in a previous documents (i.e.. contract). The arbitration is submitted to an arbitrator or forum. Each arbitrator or forum has its own rules for conducting the process. They usually include 3 steps - how arbitrators are chosen, how the hearing is conducted, and how the award is prepared.

How do you choose an arbitrator?

Arbitrators are available through alternative dispute organizations and as individual practitioners. An arbitrator should have at least some formal arbitration training, some subject matter expertise in the issues under consideration, and actual experience conducting arbitrations. Arbitrators should subscribe to a code of ethics and disclose any potential conflicts of interest with the prospective parties (i.e. having worked with one of the parties). If you go to a forum, arbitrators may be proposed to you and you strike from the list any with which you have conflicts or each party may propose an arbitrator and each party may strike a certain number from the list.

How is the hearing conducted?

The hearing is a semi-formal proceeding. It must be conducted equitably giving each party an equal opportunity to be heard. Written documents as well as oral testimony may be taken. The hearings themselves are private and confidential.

Does the arbitrator have any powers?

The arbitrator has the power provided by the agreement to submit the conflict to arbitration. The arbitrators would thus have the authority to hear the matters in controversy subject to the rules of the forum or pursuant to Section 1280 et seq. An arbitrator may rule in accordance with legal principles, but may also look to other issues, such as fairness and equity, when making a decision.

Should attorneys be involved?

The parties may chose to have attorneys present and to have the attorneys present their case. It is a decision which each party will need to make for themselves.



What is Arbitration

Robin Berry

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