In the last posting, I mentioned that the decision of the arbitrator is appealable. This is in fact one of the primary problems with compulsory arbitration. Under the Rules of Procedure, any decision of the arbitrator is appealable to the superior court. The appeal is “de novo.” This is a legal term that means that if appealed, on appeal the case is a blank slate and the superior court is to give no deference to the rulings and decisions of the arbitrator. Essentially, this means that the arbitrator’s decisions have no impact at all on appeal, and the case starts over from scratch.
If appealed the case in essence starts over, which if it occurs, obviously renders the arbitration a waste of time and resources. A party can spend thousands litigating and winning on arbitration, only to have to start over on appeal. Ironically, while the compulsory arbitration process was originally designed to save parties money and time, for any case that either party wants to appeal, it adds to the time and trouble of litigation.
Michael L. Kitchen
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement