In Nemecek & Cole v. Horn B233274 2d District July 23, 2012
the court rejected arguments by the losing party in an arbitration that the award should have been vacated because the arbitrator had failed to disclose in advance certain relationships that he had with a party to the arbitration. One of the many points that were raised was that the arbitrator and the party were both members of a bar committee comprised of 186 members.
The case points to the continual attempts that are made by losing parties in arbitration to find a way to have the award vacated. Motions to vacate arbitral awards are rarely granted, but the frequency with which they are made calls into question the finality of arbitration. Finality becomes elusive when losing parties are reluctant to accept it, preferring instead to litigate.
Arbitration can also lead to other forms of litigation, which occur even before the arbitration commences. Thus, courts are often required to rule on the arbitrability of a dispute or the enforceability of the agreement to arbitrate. The avoidance of litigation, which is the whole purpose of arbitration, is thereby frustrated.
Consider also that some of the perceived advantages of arbitration are in the minds of many people actually disadvantages. These include the lack of any right of appeal, the fact that arbitrators are not required to follow the substantive law applicable to the case nor the rules of evidence or civil procedure, and that pre-hearing discovery can be limited or even unavailable. These attributes of the process, which are supposed to make it faster, more efficient and less costly, are seen as major drawbacks.
The question whether arbitration is a good idea or not is constantly being debated. Those who believe that it is not a good idea should be aware that California law provides other alternatives to arbitration besides litigation. Code of Civil Procedure Section 638 authorizes the court to appoint a referee for the purpose of hearing and deciding a case. When submitted to the court, the referee's decision then becomes the basis for entry of a judgment.
MICHAEL P. CARBONE is a senior mediator who has also served as an arbitrator and court-appointed referee. His dispute resolution practice has been built over a period of more than 25 years and covers a wide range of fields. His exceptional combination of transactional and litigation experience enables him to handle complex litigation and other challenging cases.
Michael resolves business and commercial cases, real estate disputes, employment claims, construction claims and defect cases, estate and trust matters, insurance issues, legal malpractice, corporate and partnership disputes, and personal injury cases. In his capacity as a court-appointed referee he has undertaken a wide variety of responsibilities, including sales and appraisals of real property, and the adjudication of trust accounting and administration matters.
He is a member of numerous dispute resolution panels, including the National Panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association. He is also listed on the mediation and discovery facilitation panels of several Superior Courts.
He is a founder and past president of The Mediation Society, and a member of many other professional organizations, including the Academy of Court-Appointed Masters, the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.
Michael is a frequent author and speaker on alternative dispute resolution issues. He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled "Resolving It" which provides timely advice on strategies for successful mediation and discusses current issues, such as reforming the commercial arbitration process and mediating e-discovery.