Experienced Arbitrator Serving Parties in Private Arbitrations and Arbitrations Administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
Mr. Betts serves as an arbitrator in private arbitrations, and he is on the roster of arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association (Commercial and Consumer cases) and FINRA Dispute Resolution.
Parties to a contract may include an arbitration provision in the contract requiring that any disputes that arise between them may not be litigated and must be submitted to arbitration. In addition, in the event of pending or threatened litigation, parties may decide to have their dispute decided by an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators), rather than incurring the expenses and delays inherent in litigation. As part of his ADR practice, Mr. Betts is available to serve as an arbitrator in these situations.
One of the significant benefits offered by arbitration is the management of expense through discovery that is generally much more limited than that allowed in litigation. One of the reasons that litigation can be so expensive is that the parties are given wide latitude by court rules to conduct discovery, including broad requests for documents and electronically-stored information (ESI) and numerous depositions. These expenses can be largely avoided through the parties' explicit agreement restricting the scope of agreement, or their general agreement to abide by the rules of the entity administering the arbitration, e.g., the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The rules of these bodies, and those of similar dispute resolution administrators, generally provide for limited document discovery and no depositions (or a limited right to take depositions where good cause is shown).
Arbitrations also are favored in cases where the parties desire that their dispute be resolved within a shorter period of time than would be expected with litigation. Cases submitted to arbitration are generally concluded in far less time that cases that are litigated. This is due to various factors, including the limited scope of motion practice (no right or a very limited right to file motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment) in arbitration, the restricted scope of discovery and no right, or a very limited right, to judicial/appellate review.
With respect to judicial review, the United States Supreme Court held in Hall Street Associates, LLC v. Mattel, Inc., 552 U.S. 576 (2008), that under the Federal Arbitration Act courts must confirm an arbitration award “unless the award is vacated, modified, or corrected as prescribed in sections 10 and 11 of this title.” The grounds for vacating, modifying or correcting an award under sections 10 and 11 of the FAA are very limited and essentially require arbitrator fraud or misconduct or the arbitrators exceeding their powers. Although some courts since Hall Street continue to allow “manifest disregard of the law” as a basis for vacating an award, most parties considering the arbitration of their dispute should assume that the opportunity for judicial review of any award will be very narrow. To the extent the parties desire to expand the extent to which an arbitrator's decision can be reviewed, he parties have the opportunity to address this subject in their arbitration agreement. For example, the parties may provide for arbitral appellate review, i.e., review by an appellate arbitration panel. The advantages of arbitration generally extend to any agreed-upon appellate process, such as confidentiality and the ability to customize the process as the parties see fit. The parties can agree to the specific grounds of appeal that would be available, and they can not only limit the parties’ submissions to the appellate panel to briefs of a certain length but also dispense with oral argument.