One can always attempt to bring an action instead of following the contractual provision. So long as it isn't challenged, you'll be fine in choosing another venue. That said, if the other party wishes to follow the contract requirement for submission to AAA, then in most instances the provision will be enforceable. Depending on the amount at issue, the other party might likewise feel that small claims isn't a bad option, or conversely want to keep it out of small claims.
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An agreement may be enforced if either party does so. You can file in small claims. If the other party does not object, then the case will be heard in small claims. Good luck.
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The contract requires both parties to go to arbitration.
Since the expenses are split the other party may agree with you to go to small claims court.
Verify first that the amount in dispute fits within the jurisdictional limits of small claims court.
Also, depending whether you entered the contract as an individual or as a company, some states may require your company to have a lawyer to appear in court which may mean that the arbitration might end off being cheaper since you can appear without a lawyer.
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