In the construction industry, settling disputes is common practice. Because of this and every company’s desire to avoid lawsuits, arbitration, also known as alternative dispute resolution, has become a popular way of mitigating disputes. It is likely that you will find a clause in some of your contracts regarding arbitration or mediation.
If you are unfamiliar with the arbitration process, it is a streamlined process where two parties meet before a third-party mediator to try to in an attempt to resolve the conflict outside of the court system. Instead of a judge, there is a neutral party who can rule on the decision for the arbitration. It avoids the need for lengthy and expensive lawsuits while still getting both parties a final, legally-binding decision. In this article, a Houston construction arbitration attorney discusses a few best practices to implement when working on commercial construction cases.
Choose a Single Arbitrator
Unlike lawsuits, the parties involved in the contract get to choose the arbitrator for the case. In some states, both parties work together to choose an arbitrator while other states have state-appointed arbitrators that can be assigned to your case. Choosing an arbitrator may be easier with the assistance of Houston construction law attorneys who can help you vet him or her and ensure there are no conflicts of interest.
If you are trying to choose an arbitrator for your case, it is important that you focus on picking an experienced, professional to overhear the case. There are cases where a panel of arbitrators may be necessary, but these are often extremely expensive and very complex cases to deal with. The vast majority of arbitration cases only need one arbitrator to be successful.
Before you make a decision, thoroughly review the arbitrator’s background and credentials. You want to make sure that they are a neutral third party that has no affiliation with either party in the case or has any bias in one way or another. That way, you will get the best decision possible without it being influenced by either party.
Try To Work It Out First
Before you get to the arbitration process, perhaps the best thing you can do is try to work out the issue with the other party first. Many disputes can be solved if both parties agree to come together, set aside their differences, and discuss their options. Doing so could help you avoid an expensive arbitration or legal process.
Set Specific Rules in Your Contracts
At the beginning of the arbitration process, it is important to sit down with the other party and work out the rules of the arbitration. Like lawsuits, there are many procedural tasks that can happen that can make the process overly complicated and time-consuming.
If you are unfamiliar with arbitration contracts, contact the Houston construction attorneys of Cotney Law for assistance developing arbitration rules that will govern this procedure.
Keep the Process Simple
To avoid problems during the arbitration process, do everything you can to keep the arbitration process simple. It can get complicated because of legal motions and actions that can be taken during the process. This will help all parties avoid confusion, frustration, and time.
Move Quickly and Carefully
Once you have the arbitration scheduled and all involved parties agree to participate, it is time to start preparing for the process. You want to move quickly so that the arbitration process does not drag on for a long time. It could create problems for your construction projects and your business to have a lengthy arbitration lingering. A common milestone is to have the arbitration scheduled for six months into the future, but no later than 12 months. Do what you can to meet this deadline while still building a strong case.
Although you want to prepare quickly so that you can get the arbitration underway as soon as possible, it is important to take the time that you need to build a solid case and include the details that you need to be able to defend your position.
Arbitrations can be an effective way of resolving disputes in the construction industry. If you follow these best practices, you can make the process much easier on yourself and still present a strong defense for your position. If you have any questions about arbitration or arbitration best practices, contact a Houston construction arbitration attorney from Cotney Law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.