Southern California Business Arbitration Lawyer
The attorneys at Rounds & Sutter have years of experience providing seasoned advice and effective legal representation to California business owners and operators regarding business disputes. We help businesses large and small resolve disputes through litigation as well as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods including arbitration.
Arbitration and other forms of ADR offer the prospect of a cheaper, faster, and oftentimes less contentious venue for resolving disputes among business partners and counterparties. Arbitration offers additional benefits as well, including the avoidance of public court filings. If you are facing the prospect of a commercial dispute, whether between business partners, contractors, suppliers, employees, or other parties, our business conflict resolution lawyers will help you consider your options.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution intended to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. Arbitration is typically cheaper than litigation, involving more limited discovery and procedural rules that are tailored to the parties at issue.
Unlike mediation, arbitration is meant to be binding. Arbitration can be required as a condition of entering into a business relationship. The parties agree at that time or later upon identifying a dispute to engage in binding arbitration whereby they will submit their case before a neutral, third-party arbitrator (or a panel of arbitrators). Arbitrators are typically retired judges or other seasoned attorneys. The arbitrator, like a judge, will hear arguments and evidence from each side, make decisions regarding procedure and evidence, and render a final decision. The decision from the arbitrator will bind the parties unless there are grounds to challenge the arbitrator’s decision in court.
Although the process sounds similar to litigation, it is meant to be much more streamlined. Typically, discovery is limited, as is the use of witnesses. The case will be decided by the arbitrator rather than by a jury, meaning the parties can tailor their arguments for a more sophisticated jurist. The rules and scope can be determined by the parties and the arbitrator, rendering the process faster, cheaper, and easier than traditional litigation. The parties can also decide who will pay for the arbitrator’s services–typically, either a cost shared between the parties or hefted by the party with more resources in the event of, for example, arbitration between a consumer and a service provider.
Enforcing an Arbitration Award
The findings of an arbitrator, such as an arbitral award of damages, do not gain the immediate force of law as would a court order. If the parties agreed to enter binding arbitration (as opposed to entering court-ordered arbitration), then the arbitrator’s decision operates as a contract until further steps are taken. In order to enforce the award, the prevailing party must petition a court to enforce the award within the appropriate time frame. Only after a court orders the award to be enforced will the arbitral award carry the weight of law.
Different rules apply to enforcing awards subject to the California Arbitration Act (CAA) vs. those subject to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Depending on the location of each party and other considerations, your arbitration may trigger either or both California and federal law. To ensure that your award is indeed binding, it’s important to retain knowledgeable and effective commercial arbitration counsel.
Resolve Your Commercial Disputes Thoroughly and Cost-Effectively With Help From a Southern California Arbitration Lawyer
At Rounds & Sutter, we offer personal, tailored service to California business owners facing breach of contract disputes and other legal conflicts. We’ll help you review your options and take the steps necessary to protect your interests, your finances, and your business network. Whether you are dealing with liability issues, negotiating with contractors or suppliers, fielding an employment dispute, or facing any other business law conflict, Rounds & Sutter is ready to help. If arbitration is right for you, we’ll provide seasoned advice and zealous representation at every step of the process. Contact our Southern California business arbitration legal offices in Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Clemente or Westlake Village for a free consultation.