The Status of Arbitration in 2016: An Institution in Review

By: Matthew Lowe

I. Introduction

The role that arbitration has played in corporate affairs has transformed over the years. As industries have expanded, so too has the function of arbitration. While some may argue that such expansion has had a positive and healthy affect on the adjudicative processes of private disputes, others disagree. Currently, arbitration clauses found in purchase agreements continue to be expansive, despite recent mainstream dissent. The labor and employment field, on the other hand, is undergoing changes in deferral standards following a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).

II. Background

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that rests outside of the direct purview of the courts. Structurally, arbitration depends on the decision-making authority of an independent third-party (single or panel), which is chosen through the agreement of two contracting parties. As a practice, arbitration gained serious momentum in 1925, through the enactment … Read the rest

Alternative Dispute Resolution: An Exercise in Interpretation or a Legitimate Discussion of the Merits?

As a way to efficiently resolve cases without drawing on judicial resources, courts are starting to provide litigants with the opportunity to engage in alternative dispute resolution.1 ADR programs vary from court to court but Maine provides an example of how a mandatory ADR program can work.2 Maine has a presumptive ADR program for its civil cases but there are some exemptions or opportunities for waiver.3 Rule 16b requires at least one ADR conference which is where the parties engage in mediation, non-binding arbitration or early neutral evaluation facilitated by a neutral agreed upon by the parties.4 While in the past, an ADR conference may have meant begrudgingly sitting across from an opponent that had no interest in coming to an agreement, technology proposes the online dispute resolution (“ODR”) option.5 Both face to face and online ADR have their advantages and disadvantages, however, ODR offers Read the rest

Lumbermans v. Broadspire: Why an arbitrator should decide questions of procedural arbitrability

    On October 13, 2010, the Seventh Circuit handed down their ruling in Lumbermans Mutual Casualty Company v. Broadspire Management Service, Inc, LLC. In Lumbermans, the parties had a contract for Broadspire to purchase an Insurance Administration business from Lumbermans. The purchase agreement set out specific procedures for Lumbermans to submit a “disagreement notice” to the regularly submitted price reports created by Broadspire stemming from the transaction. The contract required that these disagreement notices have “reasonable detail” and an alternative determination of the payment required. Lumbermans submitted four disagreement notices. Broadspire refused to arbitrate the claim under the section of the contract which controlled the choice of dispute resolution for disputes arising from the disagreement notices. It was their contention that the disagreement notices did not comply with the contract and therefore should fall under the general arbitration clause which had different procedures. The court found that the dispute … Read the rest