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How Does Arbitration Work?

Arbitration Process Details

Arbitration is similar to a court case in some respects:

  • Like court, all the parties file initial pleadings detailing their claims or defenses to a claim.
  • Like court, all the parties are entitled to receive discovery so that they can develop the evidence in their cases.
  • Lastly, like a final trial, an arbitration will end with a final evidentiary hearing on the merits, where the parties will present their evidence and examine and cross-examine witnesses.

There are however numerous and very important differences in arbitration and court. Most important, in arbitration, your case will be decided by three arbitrators rather than a jury. Another critical difference is that you will have virtually no ability to appeal an unfavorable award. Other key differences include more limited discovery in arbitration and less motion practice. Although, these other differences will be dictated by the rules of the arbitration forum that is selected.

While there are numerous drawbacks to arbitration, arbitration does have some advantages over court:

  • First, arbitration is typically faster, usually taking 12 to 24 months for a case from start to finish. This is different than court where cases can take years and are sometimes held up in the appeals process for many more years.

  • Arbitration is also typically less expensive than court. Depending on the complexity, size and duration of a court case, litigation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars exclusive of attorney’s fees. Contrary to this, an arbitration can generally be completed for a fraction of the cost.

Because arbitration is very different than a typical court case, successful litigation in arbitration requires different strategies, theories and litigation styles. This means that it is essential that you employ counsel that is familiar with the arbitration process and the arbitration forum where your case will be litigated.

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