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The Arbitration Process

For anyone facing the possibility of arbitrating a dispute, it's important to know how arbitration works and what to expect during the process. It has its similarities to a traditional court case, but is fundamentally a different process. In this section, you can find resources and links with information about using arbitration to resolve your legal issues and what to expect at an arbitration hearing. Some basic information about the rules and procedures involved in arbitration is also provided to better understand how a matter goes through this method of dispute resolution. Please select from the links below to get started.

Using Arbitration to Resolve Legal Disputes

Disputes that might otherwise be resolved in courts may, in some cases, be resolved through arbitration instead. Although there are several kinds of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes available in most states; arbitration is used far more frequently than any other. Arbitration is popular because it has a streamlined process that allows parties to a dispute to present their evidence to a neutral third party, who then decides how the issue should be resolved.

Arbitration procedures are usually quicker and less expensive than the typical court case. The process is less technical and more procedurally flexible. The parties have a greater degree of control over the timing and parameters of the case. Arbitrators often have more experience about the specific subject matter of a dispute than judges, who hear all kinds of cases.

Arbitration is traditionally a voluntary process. Arbitrations frequently arise from contractual clauses requiring that the parties arbitrate their disputes rather than sue. Arbitration agreements may include clauses that control the selection of arbitrator(s), the format of the hearings that take place, the procedural and evidentiary rules that will be used, the controlling law, and the venue where the arbitration will take place.

Arbitration Rules and Procedures

No single set of rules or procedures apply to all arbitrations. As previously mentioned, the parties may select their own rules and procedures. Professional arbitrators sometimes develop their own rules and procedures, though these can vary greatly depending on the service. Despite the wide range of possible forms arbitration can take; there are some characteristics that are common to nearly all arbitrations.

  • All arbitrations involve an arbitrator or arbitrators that direct the hearings and render judgment.
  • Arbitrators are selected by the parties. This may be done by agreement, by selection off a list of arbitrators, or through a process of elimination.
  • Arbitrations have timelines, though the details vary greatly depending on the rules and procedures used.
  • Arbitrations use evidence. The rules for what evidence can be used and how it is introduced are much more flexible than the rules in court, though there is usually less emphasis on evidence in arbitrations and there may be less time to discover or present evidence.
  • Awards in arbitration are usually constrained by the agreed-upon rules.
  • Arbitration cases may be kept confidential, unlike court proceedings.

The arbitration process usually starts with the complaining party giving notice to the other about their intent to arbitrate a dispute. The notice includes the nature and basis for the proceeding. Following this notice the other party has a period of time to file a written response. After this exchange the arbitration process begins, based on the rules and procedures agreed upon by the parties, or specified in the contract from which the dispute arises.

Learn About the Arbitration Process