Yesterday was a big day for us; we officially announced eQuibbly’s launch and have already seen an increase in awareness among the general public. Within discussions following the announcement, there have been some concerns and misperceptions expressed about the services eQuibbly is offering. That’s why I wanted to take a few minutes to write this post and educate people more about what eQuibbly is all about – to do my best to address those concerns and clear up those misperceptions.
If you have any questions or concerns not covered here that you would like me to address, please let me know by posting comments!
Concern: The disputes posted in the “Private & Non-Binding” virtual rooms for non-binding arbitration are not legally binding so the losing Party can’t be forced to carry out the winning resolution – that’s useless!
That is true for the disputes posted using the Non-Binding option when a user clicks the “Post Dispute” button. In this situation it’s up to the Parties themselves to figure out an agreement ahead of time if they want it to be enforceable. Most people will likely have a “gentleman’s agreement” (or “gentlewoman’s agreement”).
eQuibbly also offers a “Private & Binding” dispute option that is legally binding. It is as legally binding as any signed written contract, and just one small step removed from a court judgment – it just requires a summary application to the court to convert the arbitration award into a judgment. This is a quick and inexpensive procedure that courts typically grant without issue. The various State/Provincial and Federal Arbitration Acts (legislation on arbitration) express a presumption that courts shall confirm arbitration awards (the arbitrators’ decision), and the trend in the courts in both the U.S. and Canada is to enforce arbitration awards instead of allowing an appeal, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as fraud, or obvious and extreme bias.
Concern: This is not a good way of resolving disputes!
Most Parties to a dispute turning to eQuibbly for a resolution will have likely already exhausted the one-on-one negotiation strategy without success. What other options does a person have? They could take it to court if they have either thousands of dollars to hire an attorney, or a lot of time and patience to do it themselves. It is not an easy process to understand for the layperson; it is riddled with possible technical pitfalls that could destroy their chances of winning, it requires a lot of paperwork and carefully following rules that are often confusing, and given the backlog of cases in the court system it will likely take many months if not years to conclude. And in the end they may end up with a judge who has his or her own biases, or a jury that decides for the other party simply because they don’t like the way the plaintiff presented himself in court.