What is arbitration?
The arbitration process sees a dispute before the court submitted to experienced, knowledgeable neutral attorneys or retired Superior Court judges to hear arguments, review evidence, and make a decision regarding the case. While arbitration decisions are considered non-binding, these proceedings reduce the complexity of court cases, forego most of the formalities of court, and are often concluded more swiftly than a trial.
Arbitration is mandatory state-wide for civil cases involving personal injury, personal injury protection for unpaid insurance benefits, automobile negligence, contractual disputes and other commercial matters. These cases are presided over by attorneys who have met the requirements to be registered as an arbitrator – including at least seven years experience in the pertinent substantiative areas of law within the state, and additional required training and continuing education. These arbitrators are chosen by the Assignment Judge after recommendations made by the local bar association.
What is the arbitration process?
Before an arbitration hearing begins, involved parties must exchange statements detailing the factual and legal issues of the dispute. Once a hearing is scheduled, each party or their attorney must attend – though it is strongly recommended that every involved party and attorney appear during the hearing. The arbitrator will hear each party’s case during the hearing itself, including any relevant exhibits, testimony, and other related evidence, during which the arbitrator acts with the full power of the court, presiding over the conduct and management of the hearing.
When both sides of the case have been heard, the arbitrator renders a decision and a written reward. This is most often done on the same day of the hearing, with all parties and their attorneys present.
This decision and award is considered non-binding, which affords any party who is not satisfied with the arbitrator’s award the right to reject the decision and take the case to trial. Each party has thirty days of the date of the award to serve the court and all related parties with a ‘demand for a trial de novo’. If no such motion is filed with the court within the thirty day period, the arbitration award can be converted into a judgement.
Any party who files for a trial de novo is responsible for a fee paid to the State Treasurer. Also, depending on the circumstances of the case, if the party who made the request does not improve their position within the dispute, they may be responsible for fees incurred by the other parties, including up to $750 in attorney fees and $500 in witness costs.
What are some advantages of arbitration?
- Arbitrators are held to a rigorous standard of expertise and experience
- Promptness and expedience of each stage in the arbitration process allows cases to be settled quickly
- Arbitration bypasses many of the costs associated with a formal trial
- Arbitration allows each party to voice their concerns and issues in a less formal setting
- Arbitrator’s decisions and awards can settle a dispute or serve as a basis for negotiation between parties.
- If all parties involved agree, and the decision is confirmed by the court, an arbitration award is legally binding and enforceable.
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If you are looking for a less expensive, less formal, and more amicable alternative to stressful traditional divorce litigation, mediation may be the solution.
Our attorneys have represented many businesses and people in both mediation and arbitration. Despite the fact that the results in mediation are often quicker and more cost-effective, our attorneys never forget that the outcomes are every bit as important as in courtroom trials. That is why we are tough fighters for our clients’ rights.