I am preparing to attend an arbitration on a civil contract dispute. Do I need to bring my copies of documents that were shared during discovery? If yes, must the documents be hard copies or can I use a laptop computer? Also, must I bring all of my human witnesses to the arbitration? What if some of my human witnesses are unable to attend; do I need to get signed affidavits from those unable to attend, or must I first perform a deposition of their testimony?
If you can possibly afford an attorney (even for just the hearing), you should do so. A lawyer, by trade, knows the answers to these questions in general. More importantly, if retained, can address the specific evidentiary issues relevant to your case.
You need to bring along any and all documents and witnesses you intend to use to establish your case or your defense. Documentary evidence must be hard copy with at least five copies beyond the original (there are three members of an arbitration panel and the defense is entitled to a copy as well. You should mark your evidence in advance if possible.
There are exceptions to the hearsay rule for arbitration, but those exceptions are very limited. Therefore, you witnesses must attend in person.
I encourage you to speak with a lawyer in advance of the hearing (as soon as possible) to see what can be done to help you. If the value you could lose exceed the lawyer's fee, your answer is simple: Pay now, or pay later.
Treat arbitration just like you'd treat a trial and treat the arbitrator just like you'd treat the Judge. Arbitration is a litigation alternative. Generally, the formal rules of procedure and evidence are relaxed, but there are still some rules that apply. So you will need to prove your case just the same as if you were at trial, exception sometimes you might be able to simply say "and here's my evidence to prove this point, this is a true and correct copy of XX" and that might be enough in arbitration whereas it wouldn't in litigation without a witness to authenticate it. Long story short, treat it like an "informal trial" before a Judge. So, be prepared just like it's trial in Court.
This answer is not "legal advice" and should not serve as a substitute for the advice of an attorney who is licensed in your applicable jurisdiction. The statements provided herein are for informational purposes only and the recipient of these answers assumes all risk and expressly agrees to seek the advice of the appropriate counsel for his or her situation. Should any formal legal advice be sought, the recipient should contact our law firm at the appropriate phone number or email address.
Arbitration is semi-judicial processing so better to have everything like you are filing with the court. However, you should be aware that hearsay evidence is acceptable in the arbitration and not objectionable. Regarding to your witnesses , you may take them with you to the arbitration hearing but, better to hire an attorney to help you on Arbitration case. Arbitration award is final usually and in a very narrow situation you can challenge them or vacate them. So better to have a competent attorney in order to avoid any surprises. Good luck.
An arbitration is a quasi-judicial procedure where the arbitrator serves as the judge. While the evidentiary rules are relaxed for arbitrations, it is never a good idea to depend on relaxed rules when it comes to matters that are important to your case. Definitely take hard copies of anything you may want to offer into evidence. Should the arbitrator take the matter under advisement, you don't want him/her to base the ruling on a potentially faulty memory. Additionally, even if the arbitration may be described as "binding," there are certain instances where awards may be judicially overturned. The hard copy exhibits you introduce may be your record in the event you seek appellate relief in court. Finally, if the testimony is important, get a deposition. Too many people confuse admissibility as having some bearing on the weight the fact finder will give to a document that is obtained unilaterally without the safeguards of cross-examination. In other words, simply because the affidavit is allowed into evidence does not guarantee that the arbitrator will accord it any weight whatsoever.
This answer is not fact specific and would require further investigation. A lawyer/client relationship has not been created by giving this very general answer, and Grynkewich Law Offices assumes no responsibility for its contents 1) based on the lack of specific information in the question and 2) based on the lack of a formal written retention agreement.
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