Arbitration – Jay D. Enloe
If a matter cannot be settled, either informally or in mediation, it must be decided. Traditionally, the ultimate method of deciding a civil claim has been a jury trial—and it still is. On the other hand, a jury trial is very expensive, in many ways. A jury trial can take many days or weeks to complete. Parties must take time from their work and their other daily activities to be present. There are daily trial fees due the court. Attorney fees are incurred by all parties. Expert witness fees can be the most expensive line item cost of a jury trial. An unsuccessful party at trial owes costs to the successful party, which in some cases can include large awards of attorney fees. Justice is dispensed, but at a very high cost, economically as well as emotionally.
Arbitration can decide a civil claim and can produce justice at a much lower cost, in time and money. A multi-day jury trial can often be arbitrated in a single day, with the elimination of court trial fees and a reduced cost in attorney fees due the shortened proceeding. Although trial expenses are eliminated, arbitrator fees do come into play, but can be more affordable if a sole arbitrator is used. Arbitration rules usually allow for presentation of expert opinions by report or other written submission, eliminating the high cost of expert witnesses traveling to court to attend trial, wait to testify and then take the stand, all at high expert witness fee rates. Telephonic testimony is usually allowed in arbitration, at a reduced cost to in person testimony. Parties to arbitration can agree to not claim costs against each other. In sum, arbitration is a much less expensive method of resolving a civil dispute.