Frequently Asked Questions on Arbitration


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What is arbitration?

What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

What is the difference between arbitration and court?

What kinds of disputes can be arbitrated?  

Why use arbitration?

What issues can be dealt with through arbitration?

Who decides the outcome in arbitration?

What is an arbitrator?

What role does the arbitrator have?

Do the parties to arbitration need lawyers?

Should the arbitrator be a lawyer?

If the arbitrator is a lawyer, do the parties still need their own lawyers?

Is arbitration held in private?

Is what is said during arbitration confidential?

How does arbitration work?

How long does the arbitration process take?

Where does arbitration take place?

When are arbitration sessions held?

How much does arbitration cost?

Why is arbitration cheaper than going to court?

What is an arbitration award?

Is arbitration binding and enforceable?

Is an arbitration award final?

Where do you go from here?

How do you choose an arbitrator?


What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a method of resolving a dispute in which an impartial third party, selected by the parties, listens to the facts and arguments presented and makes a decision as to how the issues in dispute will be resolved.

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What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

In arbitration, the arbitrator decides the outcome of the dispute, after hearing evidence. In mediation, the parties themselves decide the outcome. 

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What is the difference between arbitration and court?

In arbitration, the parties can usually choose who their arbitrator will be, whereas in court the parties cannot choose their judge. Court proceedings are held in public, whereas arbitration is held in private. Arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than court. Court is held at a time and place dictated by the court, whereas arbitration proceedings are held at a time and place convenient to the parties.

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What kinds of disputes can be arbitrated?

Most kinds of disputes. For a partial list of the types of conflicts that can be arbitrated, please click here.

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Why use arbitration?

There are many advantages to using arbitration. Arbitration is faster and less expensive than court. Arbitration is held in private at a location that is convenient for the parties. You can choose your arbitrator, whereas you cannot choose your judge. For more information on the advantages of arbitration, please click here.

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What issues can be dealt with through arbitration?

Whatever issues the parties agree to refer to arbitration. This can be all or only some of the issues in dispute. In some cases, the agreement between the parties, whether a lease, contract or some other legal document will require the parties to take any dispute to arbitration.

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Who decides the outcome in arbitration?

The arbitrator.

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What is an arbitrator?

A neutral person who gives a binding decision after considering the evidence that the parties submit.

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What role does the arbitrator have?

The function of the arbitrator is similar to judge in court. The arbitrator must listen to and read the evidence presented during the arbitration hearing, make rulings on such things as procedure and listen to the arguments presented by each of the parties at the end of the evidence. Ultimately, the arbitrator must make a decision concerning the issues in dispute.

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Do the parties to arbitration need lawyers?

While it is not mandatory to have a lawyer, parties are encouraged to do so since most lay people are not familiar with arbitration procedures and the ways in which evidence can be presented to the arbitrator.

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Should the arbitrator be a lawyer?

Not necessarily. It depends on a number of factors. If the issues have legal technicalities to consider, you should probably have a lawyer or retired judge as the arbitrator. On the other hand, a person with a background in the area which is to be arbitrated, such as an engineer, nurse, farmer or accountant, might make the best arbitrator.

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If the arbitrator is a lawyer, do the parties still need their own lawyers ?

Yes. The arbitrator who is also a lawyer does not provide legal advice to the parties.

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Is arbitration held in private?

Yes. The only persons present are the parties, the arbitrator and whoever else they invite and agree upon. Unlike most court cases, the public (including your neighbours and competitors) and the media cannot sit and listen to what is said or what the decision is. Only the parties and their lawyers receive copies of the arbitrator's decision.

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Is what is said during arbitration confidential?

For the most part, yes. Of course, on those rare occasions when the arbitration award has to be enforced summarily through the courts, some parts of your dispute will become public.

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How does arbitration work?

Arbitration has the following steps: selecting the arbitrator; drafting the terms of the arbitration agreement; scheduling the time and location of the hearing; preparation for the hearing (including preparing the witnesses); presenting the evidence at the hearing (including examination and cross-examination of witnesses); making submissions to the arbitrator at the end of the hearing; and the arbitrator making a decision. While an arbitration hearing has some of the look and feel of a court trial, the arbitration process is more informal than a court trial. Arbitration generally involves fewer, if any, pre-hearing matters that often prolong court proceedings.

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How long does the arbitration process take?

It depends on the several things, including the number of issues and the number of witnesses. Usually the arbitration hearing can take place within a few weeks after the initial contact with the arbitrator. Arbitration is generally quicker than going to court.

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Where does arbitration take place?

Arbitration can take place almost anywhere that the parties agree. Usually it is more appropriate for arbitration sessions to be held in conference and board rooms. Norman is able to arrange for those facilities. Arbitration does not take place in a court room.

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When are arbitration sessions held?

At a time that is convenient to all of the parties.

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How much does arbitration cost?

The cost of arbitration is usually cheaper than the cost of going to court. It depends on how long the hearing takes, since most arbitrators charge an hourly or daily rate. As part of the arbitrator's decision at the end of the hearing, the arbitrator can order that the costs of one of the parties (including the arbitrator's fee) be paid by the other party.

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Why is arbitration cheaper than going to court?

Usually arbitration is less formal and less time consuming than court.

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What is an arbitration award?

It is the decision of the arbitrator.

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Is arbitration binding and enforceable?

Yes.

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Is an arbitration award final?

Yes. Except under very limited circumstances, arbitration awards may not be appealed.

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Where do you go from here?

If you think arbitration is the answer for your dispute, ask the other party or parties - directly or through your lawyer - to agree to submit the dispute to arbitration. Some agreements require the parties to submit any disputes to arbitration. Once arbitration is decided upon as the route to take, then choose an arbitrator.

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How do you choose an arbitrator?

Obviously, Norman Pickell would be delighted to have you approach him to see if he is available ! You can contact him directly at pickell@normanpickell.com. But if you prefer to use someone else, please click here for assistance in finding a suitable arbitrator.

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Norman B. Pickell  Lawyer - Mediator - Arbitrator  58 South Street, Goderich, Ontario N7A 3L5  Telephone (519) 524-8335   Fax (519) 524-1530