The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley has successfully represented its clients in arbitration. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which an independent third-party arbitrator effectively functions as a fact-finder and judge in deciding a dispute between the parties. Arbitration commonly resembles a mini-trial in which evidence is presented by both parties and a formal, written decision is prepared and issued by the arbitrator. Some arbitration cases are decided before a panel of three (3) arbitrators. The decision of the arbitrator(s) is a final and binding decision on the parties, subject to limited bases for appeal.
More and more disputes are being resolved through arbitration. It is increasingly common that employment agreements contain terms that require any disputes between the parties to be resolved through arbitration instead of through the court system. Mandatory arbitration provisions are also being more commonly used in commercial agreements. These provisions often raise a host of difficult questions, such as whether they are valid and enforceable and, significantly, who decides whether they are valid or enforceable (i.e., a court of law or the arbitrator). Courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have wrestled with these types of questions for years under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and other federal laws.
The Arbitration Process
Our Firm is very familiar with the rules and processes involved in arbitration. In Missouri, the rules for arbitration proceedings are commonly set by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) or United States Arbitration & Mediation (“USA&M”). Traditionally, many have believed that arbitration provides for the disposition and resolution of disputes in a quicker, more cost- and time-effective manner than resolving the case through the courts. However, given the proliferation of mandatory arbitration provisions in a wide variety of agreements, many believe this is no longer the case, as arbitration can resemble the litigation process in many material respects. Further, there are costs in arbitrations that do not exist in the court system, such as payment of the arbitrator’s fee. The arbitrator's fee is commonly split between the parties in commercial contexts; however, in the employment context, the arbitrator’s fee is usually paid by the employer.
At arbitration, both parties typically present their case through legal counsel in a fashion similar to a courtroom proceeding. Like a court proceeding, this will likely involve witness testimony and documentary evidence, among other types of evidence. The rules of evidence and procedure are typically less rigid in arbitration proceedings than in a courtroom setting and the case proceeds in a less formal manner. Nonetheless, the arbitrator—like a judge—will hear and decide objections in arbitration. Despite any appearance or impression of less formality, arbitration proceedings are formal, serious, and binding on the parties. Thus it is extremely important to retain legal counsel in any situation in which arbitration may become necessary.
If you are dealing with a matter involving arbitration or questions about arbitration, please contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley at (314) 645-4100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All legal consultations are held strictly confidential.