Do I need an attorney for an arbitration hearing?

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Do I need an attorney for an arbitration hearing?

I signed a contract with a company to help market and build my chiropractic office. I used their services for 5 months and stopped because the practice building techniques didn’t not work and were against my ethics. I stopped paying them and I got a letter from their attorney demanding $14,000. Can I find out if the company has lost arbitration before? Is that public information? Can they ask for more in the arbitration then the letter from their attorney?

Asked on August 11, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you "need" an attorney--no, not in the sense that you can represent yourself. However, *should* you have an attorney in your corner, when there is at least $14,000 at stake and the other side will have an attorney representing its interests? Definitely--there is too much at stake to try to do this yourself.

They can definitely seek more  than was in the letter. The letter was an offer to settle; if you reject that offer, they can seek any amount up to the maximum allowed or possible  (e.g. the remaining amount you would owe under the contract, if in fact  you breached it.

If arbitration awards were entered or enforced by a court, they'd be public; settlements worked out privately would not be. Even if public, they may not be easy to find and also may not be that germane--the issue are the facts in this case. (Note: stopping using their services, when you had a contract, because their methods offended  your ethics is not a defense; if their techniques were  actually illegal, however, that is a different story.)


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