Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today
Mediate.com

Verdict in JAMS Lawsuit

by F. Peter Phillips
May 2017

Business Conflict Blog by Peter Phillips

F. Peter  Phillips

A few months ago we posted disconcerting news of a dissatisfied party to a California arbitration who, rather than seeking to vacate the award pursuant to state or federal arbitration statutes, sued the arbitrator and the service provider, alleging that the arbitrator’s qualifications had been misrepresented on the provider’s website.

The matter went to trial and the jury found that, while it could not reach a conclusion as to the accuracy of the arbitrator’s representations, the claimant had failed to show any damage resulting from reliance on those representations, and the trial judge dismissed the claims.

A complete account of the result may be found here.   The case has caused some in the profession to reassess (with caution) how they market and promote their services as neutrals.  If such possible liability provokes a “cleaner” market, then perhaps some good may come of this.  But it would be at a very great cost.

From time immemorial, private commercial decision-making has been a boon to merchants who did not want lengthy and legal proceedings over essentially mercantile matters.  This goal is reflected in American arbitration statutes, narrowly circumscribing the bases on which an arbitration award can be subject to judicial scrutiny.  The mere fact that this claim was allowed to go to trial bodes poorly for the integrity of the arbitration process.  If the arbitrator’s behavior amounted to misconduct, vacatur under the statutes was available.  It did not, but the arbitrator was subjected to expensive public scrutiny regardless, along with the organization through which her services were engaged.  This is not good.

Biography


F. Peter Phillips is a commercial arbitrator and mediator with substantial experience providing consultation on the management of business disputes to companies around the globe.

A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and a magna cum laude graduate of New York Law School, Mr. Phillips served for nearly ten years as Senior Vice President of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR Institute). During that time, he earned a reputation as an author, teacher, industry liaison, and systems designer for the avoidance, management and resolution of complex and sophisticated business conflicts.

In 2008, Mr. Phillips formed Business Conflict Management LLC (BCM) in order to offer his direct services as a neutral and a consultant. Through BCM, Mr. Phillips also continues his career as a highly sought-after public speaker, facilitator and instructor.



Email Author
Author Website

Additional articles by F. Peter Phillips

Comments