Arbitration is the referral of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for final and binding determination. It is designed to be private, informal, quick, practical, and economical. Parties can exercise additional control over the arbitration process by adding specific provisions to their contract’s arbitration clause or, when a dispute arises, by modifying certain of the arbitration rules to suit a particular dispute. Stipulations may be made regarding confidentiality of proprietary information, evidence, locale, the number of arbitrators, and issues subject to arbitration, as examples.
The parties may also provide for expedited arbitration procedures, including expedited rendering of the award, if they anticipate a need for hearings to be scheduled on short notice.
An important feature of arbitration is its informality. Under the standard rules, the procedure is relatively simple: legal rules of evidence are not applicable; there is no motion practice or court conference; there is no requirement for transcripts of the proceedings or for written opinions of the arbitrators. Although there is no formal discovery process, the rules allow the arbitrator to require production of relevant documents, the deposition of factual witnesses, and an exchange of reports of expert witnesses. The standard rules are flexible and may be varied by mutual agreement of the parties.
The fact that the arbitrators are trained and have professional expertise is also important. Arbitrators are selected for specific cases because of their knowledge of the subject matter. Based on that experience, arbitrators can render an award grounded on thoughtful and thorough analysis.
Most parties provide for arbitration of disputes because they are seeking a final and binding resolution of their business conflicts. Court intervention and review are limited by applicable state or federal arbitration laws; award enforcement is facilitated by those same laws.
Another important advantage of arbitration is that it is designed to be private, having no public record of the dispute or of the facts presented in resolving the dispute.
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