Mediator Changes the Conflict Through Dialogue Between Opponents

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Business Arbitration?

Brazil Clark, PLLC Sept. 4, 2023

Every business will face disputes at one point or another. Arbitration is a method belonging to the category of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), meaning matters are settled outside of the courtroom. Not going to court, of course, can save a lot of time and money in terms of court and attorney’s fees, as well as your own loss of time and money. 

Arbitration can come in two forms: binding and non-binding. Some agreements or contracts between businesses and businesses or between individuals and businesses are subject to mandatory arbitration. In this case, mandatory means that you must submit to the process to resolve any dispute, and that you also must agree that the decision reached by the arbitrator, or arbitration team, is binding. A non-binding arbitration is generally one that is committed to voluntarily, and as such, it leaves the door open for future litigation.

If you are facing arbitration—binding or not—do you need an attorney to help present your case before the arbitrator? Or can you work things out on your own and get the result you desire?   

If the arbitration is binding, then a lot is at stake. An attorney’s advice, guidance, and representation may be the key to tilting the ruling in your favor. If you’re in non-binding arbitration, the stakes are still high. If you lose, you don’t have to abide by the decision, but then what? File a costly lawsuit?

When you or your business faces arbitration in Nashville or anywhere else in Tennessee, reach out to Brazil Clark, PLLC. The firm is here to help you navigate the arbitration process in search of the best possible outcome. Attorney Frank Brazil and the rest of the team represent clients throughout Rutherford County and across all of Tennessee.

A Look at the Arbitration Process 

Another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is mediation, which is a more informal means of trying to resolve disputes. An independent mediator will listen to both sides, huddle with each group, and then propose a solution. The mediator’s proposal, however, is typically never binding. The parties involved can accept or reject it.

Arbitration, in contrast, is more like an actual courtroom trial. Both sides can present evidence and call witnesses, cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, and challenge the evidence they present. While the formality of an arbitration hearing somewhat represents an actual civil proceeding, the rules of evidence are much more relaxed. Even hearsay evidence can be submitted. 

Again, there can be a single arbitrator or a panel. The participants can decide which they prefer if there is no mandatory arbitration clause, which generally allows the mandating party to choose. Keep in mind that the decision can be either binding or non-binding (unless arbitration is mandatory, in which case the decision becomes binding).  

Contracts and other agreements, even employment pacts and product warranties, often contain mandatory arbitration clauses. This is designed to prevent costly courtroom dramas and give the party making the mandate a kind of leg up since they can choose the arbitrator. 

Reasons to Work With an Attorney During Arbitration 

Arbitration, whether binding or non-binding, can be a double-edged sword. If you lose in a binding arbitration, you have little or no prospect of getting it legally overturned. Binding is binding unless you can prove coercion or fraud. If you lose in a non-binding arbitration, you’re faced with either a never-ending standoff, or you or the other party may have to resort to litigation. In other words, you’ll need to reach out to a skilled lawyer to help you through this process. 

Arbitration is really not a do-it-yourself proposition. You may think you have the moral and legal high ground, only to be adjudged the party at fault when all is said and done. Obtaining the services of a business law/arbitration-experienced attorney can make all the difference. Your attorney can challenge the selection and/or help choose the arbitrator to hear the case. Additionally, your lawyer can probe for documents, evidence, and witnesses that can bolster your argument.  

Depending on your status—an individual, a small business owner, or something else—you may be completely unfamiliar with the arbitration process. Larger companies have more experience with arbitration and have no doubt lined up an army of arbitrators who are in their corner. You’ll need an experienced arbitration attorney to help level the playing field. 

Ultimately, reaching out to an attorney to advise and guide you is key. 

Guiding You Every Step of the Way  

Don’t try to deal with a serious business issue alone. Instead, seek out the counsel and representation of an experienced business law/dispute resolution attorney immediately. If you’re facing arbitration in or around Nashville or throughout Rutherford County, reach out to Brazil Clark, PLLC. Attorney Frank Brazil will work closely with you and your business to strategize a path forward.