Arbitration or Litigation - Where and How to Resolve Disputes

Often times, when individuals and businesses think of resolving disputes, they think of lawsuits, courts, judges and juries.  However, the public court system is not the only forum for resolving disputes.  Over the past several years, arbitration has become a popular forum for the resolution of a large category of civil disputes.  If a dispute must be submitted to arbitration, it means that the dispute will be resolved in a private forum, with its own set of unique procedural rules.  The dispute will also be decided by one to three individuals, instead of a judge or jury.  The arbitrators will preside over hearings during which the parties will present arguments and evidence in the form of witness testimony and documents.  Depending on the complexity of the dispute, the hearings can take a day, weeks or sometimes, months.   Arbitrators are typically not required to give reasons for their decision. Most of the time, the arbitrators will simply pick a winner or loser and award a sum of money to the winner.  

Beginning in 1987, arbitration became the primary forum for resolving securities and investment disputes because the contracts entered into between customers and brokerage firms include arbitration clauses.  Many other industries have now incorporated arbitration clauses into their contracts.  Examples include many online businesses (of almost any kind), motor vehicle sales, real estate, insurance, construction, banking, and credit cards.  The trend to resolve disputes in arbitration extends to almost any setting in which there is a contract between consumers and businesses.  Recent court decisions on arbitration have also curtailed the right of individuals and businesses to “group” their claims together in class actions.   Instead, individuals and businesses can now be required to resolve their disputes on an individual basis, instead of collectively.  

In light of the trend toward arbitration, it is important to initially evaluate whether the dispute must be resolved in court or in arbitration.  If the claim must be resolved in arbitration, select a lawyer well versed in the ins-and-outs of arbitration, including the unique process of prosecuting and defending claims in arbitration.   Over the course of his career, Joel Ewusiak has represented many clients in arbitration proceedings in disputes involving securities, investments, insurance, real estate, breach of contract, construction, fraud and other areas of commerce.   The arbitration proceedings have been administered by FINRA, JAMS, AAA and others.  Please contact Ewusiak Law, P.A. for more information.