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How is the arbitrator chosen?

UPDATED: November 4, 2010

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What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a retired judge or lawyer acts as a third, disinterested party called an arbitrator. Arbitration is offered directly through many state courts as a means to cut down on the amount of litigation handled by actual judges and save the disputing parties time and money.

Who Chooses the Arbitrator?
Arbitrators are disinterested parties that are rarely chosen by the opposing disputants in a case. Each state uses different models for the assigning of an arbitrator, but as a general rule, the court will give the parties a list of arbitrators to choose from. Neither party can speak with the arbitrators, but if either party sees an arbitrator that they do not wish to use, they can simply cross the name off of the list. Once the disputing parties have looked through the list and eliminated any arbitrators they did not want, the court will assign an arbitrator to the case. By allowing the court to make the final assignment, parties can honestly say that the arbitrator is a neutral, disinterested party.

What Happens in an Arbitration?
During the arbitration, parties and attorneys may be present. The proceeding will be as formal as an actual trial, and evidence and testimony can be heard by the arbitrator. At the end of the arbitration, the arbitrator will make a decision. In most states, the disputing parties have between 30 and 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject the arbitrator’s decision. If it is accepted, then it becomes the judgment. If it is rejected, then the parties are scheduled for trial before an actual judge.

Is Arbitration ever Required?
While most arbitration is voluntary, judges in certain states, such as California, can send a case to Judicial Arbitration. Judicial arbitration is paid for by the court and offers the disputing parties a chance to work out their case before a judge.

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