What is an arbitration agreement?

An arbitration agreement is a written contract in which two or more parties agree to settle a dispute outside of court. The arbitration agreement is ordinarily a clause in a larger contract. The dispute may be about the performance of a specific contract, a claim of unfair or illegal treatment in the workplace, a faulty product, among other various issues. People are free to agree to use arbitration concerning anything that they could otherwise resolve through legal proceedings.

An arbitration agreement can be as simple as a provision in a contract stating that by signing that contract you are agreeing to arbitration in the case of any future disputes. For example, a business owner can ensure that potential dispute costs remain low by requiring anyone doing business with them to sign an agreement to arbitrate instead of litigate--to settle the matter out of court. In the case of more complicated business matters, a mandatory arbitration clause may be necessary. An arbitration provision in a contract might look like this:

“Upon written request of either Buyer or Seller, any controversy or claim between or among the parties hereto including but not limited to those arising out of or relating to the Sale, any of the sale documents, or any related agreements or instruments executed in connection with the Sale, including any claim based on or arising from an alleged tort, shall be determined by binding arbitration in accordance with the Federal Arbitration Act (or if not applicable, the applicable state law), the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association, and the “Special Rules” set forth below unless both Lender and Borrower, in their respective sole discretion, agree in writing to mediate the dispute prior to submitting to binding arbitration. In the event of any inconsistency, the Special Rules shall control. Judgment upon any arbitration award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. Any party to this Agreement may bring an action, including a summary or expedited proceeding, to compel arbitration of any controversy or claim to which this agreement applies in any court having jurisdiction over such action. The party that requests arbitration has the burden to initiate the arbitration proceedings pursuant to and by complying with the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association and shall pay all associated administrative and filing fees.”

If you need help drafting an arbitration agreement or understanding one that has been handed to you, you should contact an arbitration lawyer for help.