I'm not a huge fan of arbitration. I understand the benefits of having the dispute handled privately, but I have found that it can cost nearly as much as a court battle, and you cannot appeal an arbitration gone bad. These are serious issues that every business owner and executive should discuss with their attorney.
I'm also not a fan of court battles because they take so long and cost so much. If I filed a lawsuit today in the King County Superior Court, the Clerk of the Court will assign a trial date that is 18-months away. When it comes to the consumption legal services, time is money, and time is serious money when the trial date is 18 months away.
Here's a suggestion to consider. You're not going to ever have a perfect lawsuit or a perfect arbitration. Things will go wrong no matter what. The goal should be to get it over with quickly so you can get on with your business. If you agree with this philosophy, you may want to consider including a rocket docket arbitration clause in your commercial contracts that:
(a) appoints a named arbitrator to handle all disputes;
(b) sets a hearing date deadline of 90 to 120 days from the date of the Demand for Arbitration;
(c) sets the maximum number of days for the arbitration hearing;
(d) requires the arbitrator to issue his or her decision promptly after the close of the arbitration hearing.
Having the lawyers battle for 90 to 120 days will cost you far less than having the lawyers battle for 547 days (18 months). Win or lose, getting past the dispute as cost effectively as possible is often is the best thing that can happen for the business.
Mark D. Walters | Copyright 2012
Originally Published 2012
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