What Steps Should You Take to Prepare Yourself in an Arbitration Dispute?


The question is, how do you prepare yourself and protect yourself if you find yourself in a dispute that is governed by a mandatory arbitration agreement? There are a number of ways that you can do that. Arbitration is a confidential proceeding that’s not going to be heard in a public courtroom. As such, there is a big push to have disputes go into arbitration because it’s less expensive typically and typically the disputes are resolved more quickly.

How do you protect yourself when you have one arbitrator who’s hearing your dispute instead of a jury trial? One, you need to probably seek legal counsel if you’re in a dispute like this. Either the lawyer can help you behind the scenes, guide you through the process or represent you at the arbitration. You definitely would need help selecting the right arbitrator, because we’re all human beings and we come to the table with our past experiences. You would want to check into the experience and the background of any arbitrator that you select before you select him or her. You want to make sure you understand how they run the hearing, what kind of opportunity the arbitrator will give you to learn the facts to do depositions of witnesses if necessary, and that kind of thing.

Arbitrators differ in terms of how many depositions they allow and what kind of discovery they allow. You also want to ensure that you have the ability to bring witnesses into the hearing, that you have the ability to be present at the hearing, have your witnesses present, when the hearing will occur, how long the hearing will last, and those kinds of things. Many arbitration agreements have the procedures stated in the agreement. You want to make sure that you’ve read that agreement and that you understand it, and if you don’t understand it, be sure you get legal counsel to help you with it. There are certain procedure requirements, a due process requirement, that courts are requiring arbitration proceedings to ensure before they are enforceable.

If you think that you are being forced into an arbitration proceeding where you are not being given procedural or substantive due process, you would want to challenge that arbitration proceeding, because it may not be enforceable. In that case, if it’s ruled by a judge to be unenforceable, then you would have the opportunity to take your dispute
into court and potentially have a jury trial resolve that conflict.

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