The Arbitration Process: How Do I Get My Award? Part 1: Obtaining the Award

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Arbitration Law Attorney

If you are an avid fan of crime shows or Law & Order, or turn on the television to hear about the latest sensational case, you might be surprised to find out that most cases that come into the courts are often settled out of the courtroom, whether it is through mediation, or in some cases, arbitration.  Many companies make you sign agreements requiring you to submit any dispute with the company to binding arbitration instead of suing in court.  One of the biggest reasons companies do this is that arbitration is cheaper than using the courts, and often times produces a faster result than a court can ever provide.

To lighten their workloads, courts encourage litigants to resolve disputes in mediation or arbitration.  Courts even offer complementary dispute resolution programs to help resolve disputes.  In New Jersey, it is mandatory that personal injury cases go through arbitration before they are even reviewed by a judge.  But what if you go through arbitration privately with a company, and receive some award through arbitration that you wish to have enforced through our legal system?  Over the next few blogs, I am going to discuss the process of transforming your arbitration award into a court-enforceable judgment using a recent case that came in regarding this issue.

In our case, the client had an employment contract with a company wherein he would be an executive of the company in exchange for compensation based on his success within the company.  As part of the employment contract there was a provision that any dispute in the relationship would have to go through mediation and then binding arbitration.  This is exactly what happened, as the company refused to pay specific fees due to him as required under his contract.  So the client went through the dispute resolution process prescribed in the contract.  This eventually led to arbitration, where the arbitrator accepted most of the client’s claims and awarded him the payment of the fees under the contract.

One of the first things a court will evaluate when being asked to enforce an arbitration award is the existence of a valid contract and an on-going dispute that can be sent to arbitration.  Because courts and the legal system want to encourage arbitration instead of the court system to settle disputes, contracts to submit disputes to arbitration are considered valid unless evidence is presented that the arbitration clause should be revoked.  This includes any evidence showing the contract was entered into under duress or under fraudulent means.  If there is none, and the arbitration involves a disputed provision in the agreement, then the court will be satisfied that the contract is valid, and the award will be enforced per the terms of the agreement.  In our case, the contract was entered into validly, and the payments of the fees owed to our client was specifically authorized in the contract.  We therefore had a valid dispute for which judicial intervention was appropriate.

To discuss your NJ Arbitration matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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