Binding arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a professional arbitrator renders on opinion on a case, in lieu of a judge. While some arbitrations are simple and quick, arbitration may also be more complex and trial-like when necessary, with the arbitrator making decisions regarding the exchange of evidence, interim agreements, and final determinations. Binding arbitration may be required by a contract, or the parties may voluntarily submit a dispute to binding arbitration. Certain regulatory program require arbitration, such as disputed warranty claims under the New Jersey New Home Warranty Program. For certain disputes, New Jersey regulations provide an election of remedies, so that claims submitted to binding arbitration cannot be litigated, and visa versa. Therefore, it is important to understand why a matter must or may be submitted to binding arbitration, and then to understand the legal consequences of proceeding with arbitration instead of litigation, if any.
Non-binding arbitration, by comparison, is a process in which the arbitrator makes a formal determination regarding a dispute, prior to proceeding with further litigation. Some litigated cases are also ordered to non-binding arbitration by the Court, with specific rules regarding accepting or denying the award and what happens thereafter, in further litigation. Non-binding arbitration provides insight to both parties to the dispute regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their claims and defenses, and can significantly influence settlement positions.
Attorney Representation in Arbitration
The parties to arbitration are entitled to legal representation. Whether binding or non-binding, the outcome of arbitration has significant legal implications. Arbitration rules vary depending upon the underlying contract language: appeal may or may not be available. New Jersey law allows arbitration awards to be set-aside in very limited circumstances, with Court proceedings necessary to obtain such relief. Both Bob Shanahan and Nicole L. Voigt have experience representing clients through the arbitration process. Nicole provides representation in construction and general civil arbitrations. Please contact us to discuss legal representation for your dispute.