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An Introduction to Arbitration

We often think about solving legal problems in terms of litigation. Most scenarios are played out in our minds, in mass media, and on our favorite television shows as ferocious litigious feats that involve days of hard fought trial motions and witness testimony. However, the reality is that most civil legal disputes are settled out of court. If you have an experienced attorney, they likely know how expensive trial can be for their clients and tend to avoid. Here we will talk about one of the most important alternatives to trial that you may very well encounter if you find yourself in the middle of a civil dispute: arbitration.

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration refers to the use of an “independent third party” to resolve a dispute as an alternative to trial. The third party is the arbitrator (individual); if there are multiple parties, then it will be in the form of a tribunal. Arbitration can, generally speaking, be binding or non-binding.

In the situation of a civil legal dispute, an arbitration can be requested by one of the parties or by the court. The arbitrator can be chosen by either the court or the parties, so long as they do so within a period of time as determined by the court when the arbitration is ordered. Usually, the parties have 60 days to complete an arbitration after one has been ordered by the court.

The arbitration process is similar to that of a mini-trial. Unlike a day in court, an arbitration does not often have various witness testimonies. If they see necessary, the arbitrator can issue subpoenas for witnesses or documents. The arbitrator considers the evidence presented and advocated and then issues a written opinion.

After the arbitrator issues his or her written opinion, either party can request to move forward with a trial, during which the evidence would all be presented as if it were all new. So long as the request is completed within 20 days, there can be a trial. However, if neither party requests a trial, then the decision is final, which carries the weight of a court decision and either party can request that the court enters a judgment on any arbitration award granted.

When Would I Need To Arbitrate?

There are a few circumstances wherein you may need to arbitrate. Arbitration may be necessary if:

  1. The court requires it. As aforementioned, the court may require that the parties arbitrate before allowing them to go to trial. This provides the parties with an opportunity to save costs by arbitrating the issue and may save the court the trial time.
  2. One of the parties wants to. Either party can request arbitration before the court and the court can grant it.
  3. You are required by a contract. Many commercial contracts include provisions to arbitrate if there is a legal issue that arises. This can be done by the use of an arbitration clause in any contract. You can find these in the terms and conditions you may agree to for various goods and services, and in the contracts you may sign for various goods.

Let Our Attorneys Help You

Trial is not the only place you may find yourself when litigating a commercial claim. In Florida, there are many complicated rules that govern the arbitration process. These rules, while accessible, may overwhelm many individuals who need the help of the Florida courts in resolving an issue. Contact Pike & Lustig, LLP for help through this process; our business litigation attorneys are able to help you use the legal tools you need to win your claim.

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