Who arbitrates the cases on eQuibbly?
Arbitrations are conducted and decided by former court Judges with years of experience presiding over civil cases in American courts of law. The Judges have retired from their official duties and are now conducting private arbitrations for eQuibbly. You can view their experience and qualifications on the Judges page.
How do we know your Judges are neutral and unbiased?
Our arbitrators are former court judges – they are professionals who were trusted by the government to make decisions about cases in court. We do not, and would not ever, allow arbitration decisions to be made based on keeping any corporate account happy. It goes against every moral fiber of our being and everything we hold dear. It simply would not be tolerated. Arbitrators take an oath to make unbiased decisions and we hold them to that oath. In any event, pursuant to the New York Convention, the Federal Arbitration Act, and other similar arbitration Acts, anyone who can prove that the there has been partiality or prejudice can have the Award overturned by a court.
What “law” is applied in determining disputes?
The parties to a dispute can have a custom arbitration and agree beforehand what jurisdiction’s laws they would like to apply. The default according to eQuibbly’s arbitration Rules is to apply American legal principles (U.S. and Canadian) and what is fair and just given the circumstances and the facts surrounding the dispute. Examples of American legal principles include: the right for private parties to enter into private contracts; a contract consists of voluntary promises between competent parties to do, or not to do, something, which the law will enforce; equality before the law, et cetera. The majority of small claims cases deal with landlord/tenant disputes, collection of debt, and breach of contract. The laws in most jurisdictions with respect to most matters that come before our Judges are not so different that they will not be able decide cases based on American legal principles. Where necessary, our Judges will research the matter at issue to arrive at a just decision.
How do the parties submit evidence and how do the arbitrators know it’s real?
Parties submit evidence by uploading it to a secure, password-protected location on eQuibbly, which can be accessed by the Judge and both parties. Authentication of the evidence works the same way as it would in court. An arbitrator can subpoena witnesses and require that a document be notarized or sworn if necessary. By law, an arbitrator can administer oaths, subpoena witnesses and documents, and impose penalties for being untruthful, just as a court would.
Does the opposing party have a chance to contest the evidence presented?
Both parties and the Judge have secured access to all the evidence online pertaining to the dispute. The parties are given ample opportunity to view all the evidence and contest it in the ‘hearing’ before an Award is made. The ‘hearing’ online is not the same as court where the parties have to make all arguments in a single 3 or 4 hour sitting. It may take place over several days, or even weeks if necessary, with questions and answers going back and forth as and when the parties and the Judge have time to respond. Text conversation can be instant, or not. However, there is no pre-hearing discovery of documents, since it is an expedited process as opposed to court where discovery could go on for months and costs can skyrocket.
Are inarticulate people disadvantaged?
Most of the arbitration takes place in synchronous and asynchronous text chat online. So the parties can take their time and choose their words carefully. Or the parties can have their statements translated for them if necessary prior to submitting them. The parties’ opening statements are submitted online before a Judge gets involved so they have a lot of time to make sure they are conveying properly what they intend to communicate. If the Judge deems it necessary for a fair arbitration, a live video conference can be held.
Can the arbitrator’s decision be appealed?
Arbitral institutions have a choice of whether to allow appeals of their Awards (the arbitrator’s decision) – it is addressed in their Arbitration Rules. According to eQuibbly’s Rules of arbitration, Awards cannot be appealed. This is done to avoid the situation found in court litigation where parties continue appealing decisions as a strategy to win, hoping the other party will run out of resources and drop the lawsuit or concede. Many people appreciate the finality of arbitration for this very reason. It is no different in small claims courts in some jurisdictions where decisions cannot be appealed.
What if the arbitrator does not follow eQuibbly’s arbitration rules?
The first complaint should be to eQuibbly’s administrator to determine if something has gone wrong and if it can be corrected. If not, the jurisdiction in which the arbitration occurs, or is deemed to occur, has laws governing the arbitration process. If a party believes something unlawful or egregious has occurred, they can petition the court in that jurisdiction to take appropriate action to correct the situation.
Is it possible to contest an arbitrator’s decision?
Various arbitration laws (similar laws enacted in different jurisdictions) provide very limited grounds to contest an Award, for example, fraud, corruption, or prejudice. Courts typically will not entertain arguments beyond those few limited grounds. That is another of arbitration’s benefits – it will not drag on for months and possibly years through multiple appeals.
How do we know this will be a fair, rational and honest means of resolving disputes?
eQuibbly’s arbitration Rules, which must be followed according to the pre-arbitration agreement signed by the parties, are displayed on the website. People can determine for themselves whether they are rational and fair (the parties can also agree beforehand to have a custom arbitration and alter some of the rules). If the Rules agreed to are not followed, or if something egregious has occurred, the parties can petition the court to correct the situation or over-turn the arbitration Award (also see answers to relevant questions above). It is probably less involved than what a party would have to do in court if a sitting court Judge did not follow the law or regulations.
How can we enforce an arbitration award if someone does not comply with it?
Enforcement of the Award is not necessary in the vast majority of arbitrations since we take precautions to dissuade the losing party from refusing to carry out the Award. On eQuibbly, the parties sign a pre-arbitration agreement where they agree that the neglectful party will cover all costs of enforcement, including attorney’s fees, if the party fails to comply with the Award.
As with a court judgment after litigation, if enforcement becomes necessary, enforcement procedures will need to be followed – typically by filing particular forms with the court – for example, to garnish wages. The law in most jurisdictions gives the defendant time to pay the judgment after litigation – often 30 days – and in many jurisdictions, gives time for the losing party to appeal the decision before any enforcement actions can be taken. So even after someone receives a judgment after litigation, they will still have to wait and take further action to enforce the judgment if the defendant does not pay.
With arbitration, if enforcement becomes necessary, the Award would first need to be ‘confirmed’ by a court (converted to a judgment of the court) and then enforcement actions could be taken. The procedure is somewhat different in different jurisdictions, but it is typically a summary procedure similar to a motion or petition. It is not litigation – it is usually much quicker, easier, and much less costly than litigation and usually does not involve any appearance before a Judge. Many jurisdictions allow a request for confirmation of an arbitration Award to be submitted to the court in writing, without the need for a hearing before a Judge, unless it is contested. Once the Award is confirmed the enforcement procedure is the same as it would be to enforce a judgment of the court.
*This is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. You should seek competent legal counsel for any legal advice.