How can I find out about a specific arbitrator?
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UPDATED: Jan 7, 2011
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When you’re involved in any type of arbitration, you need to do your homework on any party claiming to be a qualified arbitrator before hiring him and trusting them with the details of your business or personal life. The decision made by an arbitrator is going to be legally binding, unlike with a mediator. While you can technically appeal a decision made in arbitration, the appellate court is deferential to the arbitrator, so they aren’t going to change any decision the arbitrator makes unless there was some major problem with the arbitration proceedings. Fortunately, there are a few different sources you can turn to for information on a specific arbitrator you are thinking about using.
Finding Information on an Arbitrator
In order to find information on a specific arbitrator, you may want to start with the most obvious of places: the arbitrator himself. Getting a personal feel for him and forming your own opinion may help you make a good decision. The next place to look is with the Better Business Bureau, which tracks reports of business conduct, both good and bad. You should also check your arbitrator’s references. You’ll want to ask past clients about the specific process, procedures he instituted, as well as about how the decision was reached and the general conduct of the arbitrator.
The next places you’ll want to look deal specifically with arbitration organizations. One of the most popular organizations is the Association for Conflict Resolution, which keeps a running listing of all of the qualified arbitration specialists in the country. Another organization to contact is the American Arbitration Association, which also maintains a listing of all of the arbitration specialists that deal directly with your needed form of dispute resolution (divorce, business, etc). If your prospective arbitrator isn’t named on either of these listings, then you should continue your search.
Checking with your lawyer is also a good idea. Attorneys have wide networks of contacts, and your lawyer may know of the arbitrator – or know someone who does who can also be trusted – and can give you helpful information about an arbitrator’s skills.