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Arbitration

It’s no secret that business litigation is time consuming and expensive. If parties are unwilling to compromise, cases can drag on for years with no end in sight, which can be crippling to small businesses. Fortunately, there are alternatives to litigation that allow small businesses to resolve disputes in a more efficient and less costly manner, one of the more popular options being arbitration. The Fort Lauderdale arbitration attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm have extensive commercial arbitration experience provide persuasive and effective representation in arbitration.

Arbitration is primarily designed to provide a streamlined and cost-conscious option to deal with a legal issue. It allows parties to resolve disputes without using a judge or jury. Instead, the dispute is resolved by an arbitrator or arbitration panel acting as a neutral party. There is also much less time and money spent on discovery, which is beneficial because the discovery process during litigation can be very costly.

In addition to being less time consuming and costly than litigation, arbitration provides other benefits as well. One of these benefits is confidentiality. In litigation, when a complaint or subsequent documents are filed with the court, they will usually become public record for anyone to see. This is not the case in arbitration where there is no centralized courthouse or office where others can easily access and review case documents whenever they wish. The Fort Lauderdale arbitration attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm provides effective representation to parties who desire to resolve their disputes quickly and privately, this benefit can be very valuable.

Another benefit of arbitration is that the parties are normally involved in choosing their arbitrator. For example, the parties may be able to choose from a pool of arbitrators or can strike potential arbitrators from a list of options. This is completely different from litigation where the parties have no say whatsoever with regard to the judge who will preside over their case. The parties also may be obligated during arbitration to share the expense of the selected arbitrator, minimizing the existence of frivolous or “nuisance value” claims being filed against employers because an employee or his or her attorney would have to pay the legal fees of the arbitrator to proceed with a claim. Arbitrators also can be required to be an expert in the field or industry in which the dispute deals, which allows parties to be at ease that the person deciding their case has substantial knowledge of the subject matter.

Another important benefit is the finality of arbitration awards. Florida’s Arbitration Code provides certain instances when an arbitrator’s award may be vacated, but these instances are very rare. Florida courts recognize that “[p]ublic policy favors arbitration.” Sawgrass Ford, Inc. v. Vargas, 214 So. 3d 691, 693 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017). As an extension to the recognition that arbitration is preferred to litigation, absent specific circumstances, courts are extremely limited in their ability to overturn or modify an arbitration award. The Revised Florida Arbitration Code, §§ 682.01, Fla. Stat., et seq., provides the exclusive list of actions or inactions that could trigger the judicial review and modification of an arbitration award. Schnurmacher Holding, Inc. v. Noriega, 542 So. 2d 1327, 1328 (Fla. 1989) (Absent a violation of an enumerated provision of the Revised Florida Arbitration Code “neither a trial court nor a district court of appeal has the authority to overturn the award.”) The Florida Supreme Court explained that “the finality and enforceable nature of an arbitration award” … “distinguishes it from other forms of alternative dispute resolution.” Thus, allowing “judicial review of the merits of an arbitration award for any reasons other than those stated in [the Revised Florida Arbitration Code] would undermine the purpose of settling disputes through arbitration.” Id. at 1329. As such, in the vast majority of arbitration cases, the arbitrator’s decision is final and the parties will be bound by it.

Of course, the stated benefits of arbitration may not be preferred by some businesses. There are those who prefer the randomness and lack of selection process of litigation because judges do not have to worry about whether they will ever be selected again to preside over cases, either by the parties to the case at hand or by potential referrals. Further, parties who are dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision generally have no or limited rights to appeal. Thus, it is important for small businesses to consider these benefits and weigh their options before determining whether arbitration is the best way for them to resolve disputes.

If you decide that arbitration is the right option for you, it should be noted that you cannot force a person to participate in binding arbitration because arbitration requires both parties’ consent to participate. As such, the primary way to ensure binding arbitration is contractually, i.e. including an arbitration provision within agreements. The Fort Lauderdale arbitration attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm can help your business draft an effective arbitration contract. Such a provision will require the parties to participate in binding arbitration pursuant to the wording of the arbitration provision.

If you are currently involved in arbitration or simply would like more information regarding arbitration or arbitration provisions, the Mavrick Law Firm has significant experience dealing with arbitration in Florida.