Picking an arbitrator in advance of a new project may be one of the best things you can do to protect your company during a costly and time-consuming legal dispute. Legal disputes are an unfortunate reality in this industry. Try as you might, a dispute is bound to emerge, and when it does, the chosen arbitrator may mean the difference between a decisive final decision and litigation.
Below, a construction lawyer in Franklin, TN, with Cotney Construction Law discusses the qualities that all great arbitrators share. It’s not enough for an arbitrator to merely be competent; they must be familiar with the arbitration process and the construction industry as a whole. If you’ve found an experienced arbitrator and are now in search of representation, consult a construction law attorney in Franklin, TN, from Cotney Construction Law.
In many ways, an arbitrator is like a judge, listening to both sides and passing down a final decision. Above all else, an arbitrator must be impartial. A great arbitrator should uphold ethical standards without succumbing to pressure or corruption. When your arbitrator grants an award and closes the hearing, there should be no doubt in your mind that the decision was awarded fairly, even when it isn’t in your favor.
Firm Yet Compassionate
Construction disputes are messy affairs that often involve heated emotions and betrayed trust. By the time most parties entertain arbitration, they’ve already gone through mediation and failed to compromise or find a mutually beneficial solution. When it comes to opening statements, the threat of litigation is hidden behind every word.
As you can see, arbitrators have their work cut out for them. Not only do they have to quell tempers, but they must appreciate where those tempers are coming from. Tempers are often justified when it comes to the challenges that contractors regularly face. A great arbitrator will listen to people’s impassioned speech and find the core of their argument. In that way, a great arbitrator is compassionate; however, that doesn’t mean they are not firm.
While arbitration is like a court case, there are key differences. During arbitration hearings, all parties are allowed to present their evidence and arguments without objections from opposing parties. A great arbitrator is both patient and understanding, but at no time will they allow the hearing to spin out of control.
There are numerous benefits to choosing arbitration over litigation. For one, it’s a far cheaper option. As we’ve covered previously, the average cost of construction disputes in North America is $19 million — not exactly pocket change. What could be more damaging for contractors is the time a construction dispute takes: close to 18 months on average. Either of these factors could be the final nail in the coffin for construction companies in an industry plagued by tight deadlines and cash flow issues.
What’s less talked about is the privacy that arbitration affords. As you may know, arbitration proceedings are private, and individuals who are not a part of the hearing may not attend. This is vital for disputes that involve confidential information or embarrassing information. A great arbitrator is obligated to maintain confidentiality not only in business settings but also in their personal life. Furthermore, a great arbitrator will do everything in their power to enforce confidentiality during arbitration, even if it means the imposition of sanctions. To ensure that arbitration proceedings truly remain private, have a construction lawyer in Brentwood, TN, review your construction contracts to ensure that they include an arbitration clause stipulating confidentiality.
A mediocre arbitrator may be able to do all of the above for a normal legal proceeding, but they will always lack the adequate knowledge and experience when it comes to a construction dispute. For this reason, you should choose an arbitrator who is not only familiar with the arbitration process but also dedicated to the construction industry and the professionals within it.
At Cotney Construction Law, our team of lawyers are adept at representing contractors during arbitration. If you are interested in obtaining a legal representative who is sympathetic to the challenges that contractors face, consult a construction attorney in Brentwood, TN, with Cotney Construction Law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.