There are potential benefits and drawback to arbitrating business disputes. Here are a few thoughts to ponder.
- There is no one right answer. I have colleagues who believe that arbitration is always best; and colleagues who refuse to ever arbitrate. They are both wrong. The decision should be case specific and considered with an open mind.
- Arbitration is generally private and confidential. This is in stark contrast to what litigants are now experiencing with Court filings being readily available on the internet for just about anyone who wants to see them.
- Arbitration is usually, but not always, the less expensive alternative. The caveat to this statement is that a case that proceeds in Court without substantial discovery and pre-trial motions practice can cost less than an arbitration.
- Arbitration decisions are not appealable. If your client would absolutely need to appeal in the event of an adverse result, then arbitration is the wrong option.
- Arbitration gives the litigants far greater control over the scheduling of a matter. On occasion I have seen litigants opt for arbitration primarily to avoid a Judge’s punitive scheduling practices.
- You may not have a choice. If there is a controlling contractual provision requiring arbitration of disputes, Courts will usually enforce it.
- On the other hand, you may have a choice. If there is no controlling contractual provision, the parties can always still agree to submit their dispute to arbitration. I have been involved in many disputes where the only thing the parties can seem to agree upon is that they would like to have the case decided in arbitration.
- If discovery and/or pretrial motions practice is vital to your case, be careful about arbitration. Those procedures can be arranged by mutual agreement, but they are not required. The Rules of Civil Procedure in Court clearly provide an exhaustive framework for both discovery and pre-trial motions practice.
An experienced business litigation attorney should be consulted if you have questions.