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Commercial Arbitration -- An overview

Posted by attorney Jon Polenberg

Commercial arbitration is a less formal process for resolving business disputes than resolving them through the legal system. Like all arbitrations, the only way for parties to a commercial dispute to use the process is by the parties consenting to be bound by a third party's decision. Through the parties agreement, they can tailor arbitration to fit particular situations, and therefore, arbitration agreements exist in a wide variety of contexts: sale of goods contracts; shareholder contracts; joint venture contracts, limited partnership contracts, general partnership contracts, brokerage contracts, franchise contracts, and dealership contracts.

Despite the basis for arbitration being the parties' agreement, there are several statutes and rules that may govern arbitration. In Florida, there are two statutes, and either one may apply: (1) the Florida Arbitration Code (FAC) and (2) the Florida International Arbitration Act (FIAA). The FIAA applies to arbitrations having some connection to matters outside the United States. Additionally, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applies to arbitration agreements for transactions involving interstate commerce as that term is defined in the FAA. Along with these statutes, the several courts having jurisdiction over different arbitrable disputes have established rules for addressing arbitration when it becomes an issue in court.

But several private organizations have also drafted rules often adopted by parties to an arbitration agreement. The American Arbitration Association of America (AAA) has established Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures (including mediation and arbitration rules), Securities Arbitration Rules, Construction Industry Dispute Resolution Procedures, which many parties have adopted as the rules to govern arbitrations for disputes. But the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is the new organization resulting from the 2007 merger between the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the New York Stock Exchange’s regulation committee and parties to many brokerage contracts have selected its rules to govern disputes under those contracts.

JAMS, like the AAA, is a private, international organization providing dispute resolution services, and it undertakes cases ranging from small, two-party personal injury matters to complex commercial and environmental cases. Each office maintains judicial panels of retired and former federal and state court judges and attorneys.

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