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What an Arbitration Lawyer Can Do For You

An arbitration lawyer can represent you in an arbitration dispute. Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution, where the parties consent to submit their dispute for arbitration. The consent to submit to arbitration is usually reflected in the contract through an arbitration clause. However, without an arbitration clause in the contract, parties can still submit their dispute to arbitration as long as both parties consent.

Arbitration is an alternative to litigation. Unlike mediation and similar to litigation, arbitration results in a binding award that can be enforced. Courts rarely set aside an arbitral award unless the arbitrator exceeded his powers (ruled on matters outside of the scope of the arbitration agreement), the award was obtained by corruption, fraud, or undue means, or the arbitration was not independent.

International vs. domestic arbitration

International arbitration normally takes place between two parties with different nationalities involving large amounts of money, usually infrastructure projects of governments (such as roads, highways, airports, mass public transportation) built by private contractors. It can involve disputes between governments and private parties, and in these cases, national courts are not considered an alternative to the international arbitral tribunals due to possible biases. The most popular international arbitral institutions are those tribunals under the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). For these tribunals to acquire jurisdiction, the contract must contain an arbitration provision referring to the dispute under the rules of that particular tribunal.

In New York, most domestic arbitration disputes fall under the American Arbitration Association (AAA), Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Referring a dispute to an arbitral institution is recommended because these arbitral institutions already have established rules of procedure that can be followed in submitting claims, answering claims, filing counterclaims, and presenting evidence.

Domestic arbitration in New York

Some contracts in New York include an arbitration provision because most people believe arbitration is faster, less formal, and less expensive than litigation. In the New York construction industry, many construction contracts include an arbitration clause, requiring disputes to be resolved under AAA or JAMS. FINRA is an industry-specific organization that resolves securities-related disputes between and among investors, brokerage firms, and individual brokers.

Do you need an arbitration lawyer in arbitration?

Although arbitral institutions do not require a party to be represented by a lawyer in a dispute, representation by an arbitration lawyer is recommended in order to save time and resources and to ensure you are successful in your claim.

An arbitral award is a binding award, which can be enforced against the losing party. An arbitral award can order a party to (a) pay a sum of money (damages); (b) refrain from doing a particular act (injunction); or (c) perform a contract (specific performance).

Arbitration procedures

Generally, each arbitration institution would have promulgated its own procedures for resolving a dispute. Usually, it starts with a Statement of Claim, which provides a written narrative stating the facts that form the basis for the dispute (the claimant’s cause of action) and the claimant’s request for relief. This is served to the other party, usually called the respondent, who then submits a Statement of Answer. The Statement of Answer will contain the response to the claim plus any counterclaims against the claimant.

Once these pleadings are filed, the claimant and respondent will select an arbitrator from a list of arbitrators registered with the institution. The parties and the arbitrator may either agree on the procedures for submitting evidence and holdings hearings or agree to resort to the default rules promulgated by the arbitration institution.

Enforcement of an arbitral award

When a party refuses to comply with a final and executory arbitral award, the successful party may file a petition to confirm the arbitration award in a New York state court. The New York Court of Appeals has consistently respected and affirmed arbitral awards and has vacated these awards in very rare, limited circumstances. In Matter of New York State Correctional Association, 94 N.Y.2d 321 (1999), the Court held:

“Courts are bound by an arbitrator’s factual findings, interpretation of the contract and judgment concerning remedies. A court cannot examine the merits of an arbitration award and substitute its judgment for that of the arbitrator simply because it believes its interpretation would be the better one. Indeed, even in circumstances where an arbitrator makes errors of law or fact, courts will not assume the role of overseers to conform the award to their sense of justice (see, Matter of Sprinzen [Nomberg], 46 NY2d 623, 629-631; see also, United Paperworkers Intl. Union v Misco, Inc., 484 US 29, 38; International Bhd. of Elec. Workers v Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., 143 F3d 704, 714).

Despite this deference, courts may vacate arbitral awards in some limited circumstances. A court may vacate an award when it violates a strong public policy, is irrational, or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on an arbitrator’s power under CPLR 7511 (b) (1) (Matter of Board of Educ. v Arlington Teachers Assn., 78 NY2d 33, 37).”

Arbitral awards, however, cannot include an award of punitive damages. New York courts will modify an arbitral award that includes an award of punitive damages. Garrity v. Lyle Stuart, Inc., 40 N.Y.2d 354 (1976).

Many contracts include arbitration clauses. When submitting your claim to arbitration, it is recommended that you be represented by an arbitration lawyer, even if it is not required. An arbitration lawyer who has knowledge and expertise on the particular issue being disputed is important because arbitration is similar to litigation in the application of substantive law to the dispute. Should you need an arbitration lawyer, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.