What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process where an arbitrator hears evidence presented by the parties, determines fact, makes legal rulings and issues an arbitration award. An arbitration award is a ruling in favor of one side. Judicial arbitration is non-binding and both sides have 30 days to accept the arbitration award. If one side rejects the arbitration award he or she may file for a trial de novo. A trial de novo is a legal term meaning new trial. When a trial de novo is filed the case goes to trial before a judge.
Arbitration is very different from mediation where the mediator helps parties reach their own resolution. Still, arbitration is less formal than a trial and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. Arbitration is usually quicker and less expensive than a trial.
Why use Judicial Arbitration?
Judicial arbitration can be effective when the parties want a neutral party to decide the outcome of their dispute but want to avoid the formality, time and expense of a trial.
Who are the Arbitrators?
The Court has developed a list of qualified arbitrators. The arbitrators are local attorneys who have experience with civil cases.
Qualifications for Arbitration
Arbitration is used when the amount of money in dispute is less than $50,000. Cases may also go to judicial arbitration if the party who started the action agrees to limit the amount he or she asks to $50,000 or if the parties all agree to use arbitration.
Who pays for Arbitration?
The arbitrator collects fees from the parties.
Entering the Court's Arbitration Program
At the Case Management Conference (CMC) the attorneys and the judge will discuss what form of ADR is appropriate for the case. The judge may order arbitration if the parties request or if he or she feels arbitration would be beneficial to the case.
Selecting an Arbitrator
The ADR office will supply a list of arbitrators from the Court's panel. The parties have 10 court days to choose an arbitrator and 2 alternates and schedule the arbitration. It is the parties' responsibility to ensure the arbitrator is willing to serve and does not have a conflict of interest.
Who attends the Arbitration Session?
The parties themselves, their attorneys and any insurance companies whose agreement is needed to reach a settlement are required to attend unless all parties and the arbitrator agree otherwise before the session.