It is a common scenario. A party to a construction contract agrees to binding arbitration of disputes. There is a dispute, and it is submitted to arbitration. The party is unhappy with the result and suddenly wishes it was not binding.
There are only a few ways to successfully challenge an arbitration award. One is to question the impartiality of the arbitrator. But if the arbitrator discloses, in advance, his or her relationships and dealings with everyone involved, that avenue of appeal will probably be fruitless.
That was the situation in a recent Texas case. A contractor and a subcontractor agreed on an individual to arbitrate their dispute. That individual then disclosed in detail his professional and personal relationship – past and present – with the law firm representing the contractor. The subcontractor confirmed the choice of arbitrator nonetheless. When the sub later challenged the impartiality of the arbitrator, the appeal failed.
What has your experience been during the arbitration process? Do prospective arbitrators fully disclose their personal and professional ties with others? More important, do arbitrators always conduct proceedings and arrive at results in an impartial manner? I welcome your comments.
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