Arbitration is a private hearing or trial. The parties agree to hire a private decision maker. The arbitrator hears testimony and reviews other documents presented by each side and then reaches a decision.
The parties must agree to participate in arbitration. However, in some cases, the agreement to arbitrate was signed in a document that preexisted the dispute, for example, in an employment contract or a consumer financing agreement.
Frequently Asked Questions
IS ARBITRATION CONFIDENTIAL?
Arbitration, unlike mediation, is not by law a confidential process. However, it is private in the sense that, unlike court cases, no documents are open to public review and no decision is on record unless and until the participants file one with a court.
ARE LAWYERS INVOLVED IN ARBITRATION?
Usually, but not always, parties in an arbitration are represented by attorneys. In some case, they may be represented by someone like a union representative.
DOES ARBITRATION PRECLUDE ME FROM GOING TO COURT?
This depends on the agreement of the participants. Binding arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed to a court. Nonbinding arbitration allows a participant to try again in court. However, if a party appeals to a court and loses, he or she may have to pay additional fees or costs to the other party.
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