You’ve read the articles about scary results in arbitration. You’ve heard that it’s worse than court. You’re not really sure what the difference between litigation and arbitration is. Now, you’ve not only felt forced to sign an agreement to mandatory arbitration, you’re in a dispute with the party who you signed the agreement with. You’re afraid it’s not going to go well for you at all and that you’re powerless to have it go any other way.
Take a deep breath: slowly…in 1-2-3…and out 1-2-3…It’s not as bad as it seems. We know that most people don’t have a lot of experience in court, arbitration, or mediation. That’s part of why we teach and publish materials to empower you. It’s also why Nance accepted the invitation to join the arbitrator roster at the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (“FINRA”), where she got excellent training in this Private Conflict Resolution process.
Here are some key features of arbitration:
- You will be in a private conference room, instead of a large court room. There won’t be a jury or a bunch of other people in the room waiting for their cases to be heard.
- The schedule for the proceedings will be set by the parties, not the court’s computer system. You’ll get a chance to work the process into your calendar, instead of being forced to disrupt your life to fit into someone else’s schedule.
- You will usually get to choose the arbitrator, or in a FINRA case, you will choose a panel of three arbitrators. This isn’t always the case, but you’ll probably have a little more control than you would in court.
- There won’t be strict rules of evidence like there are in court, but the process will still be controlled and dilatory practices won’t be allowed. You don’t lose your rights to make discovery motions, if your adversary plays games that disadvantage you.
- On the day(s) of your arbitration, you will probably be the only case the arbitrators are hearing. Their focus won’t be split among another 20 or so cases on the calendar.
These features give you basic benefits such as comfort, conversation, focus, informality, and privacy. There is also potential for higher benefits like cost savings, creative solutions, customization, flexibility, and speed–without losing any enforcement rights. An arbitrator’s award can be taken to court for immediate action, if you get an award in your favor and your opponent doesn’t do what is directed. It’s a lot like a court judgment and might even be harder to overturn on appeal.
NOTE: This page provides a general overview of arbitration. It is not legal advice, and there is certainly no guarantee that your case will see any of the features and benefits detailed above or that they will generate a similar or specific result. Past success is never a guarantee of a future outcome. If you require information or advice applied to your unique situation, please make an appointment to discuss it with an attorney. Don’t rely solely on what you read on the Internet.
Nance serves as a neutral arbitrator in:
- Disputes between investors and their brokers or brokerage firms
- Disputes between FINRA member brokers and their employers
- Disputes related to small business (e.g., breach of contract, management duties, ownership)
She also occasionally represents litigants in cases involving personal injuries. This is typically on a per diem basis to assist colleagues who have scheduling conflicts.