Florida Arbitration Code and the Finality of Arbitration

Although an arbitration award is final and binding in nature, the Florida Arbitration Code sets forth several provisions, further discussed below, that give new meaning to the words “final and binding”.   By way of example, certain requirements of the Florida Arbitration Code are summarized below.

1. Fla. Stat. §682.10: Provides that an application for modification or correction of the award (upon certain grounds enumerated in section 682.14(1)(a) and (c)), or for the purpose of clarifying the award, can be made within 20 days after delivery of the award to the applicant.  

2. Fla. Stat. §682.12: Provides for confirmation of an arbitration award by the court unless grounds are urged for vacating or modifying or correcting the award under the appropriate provisions

3. Fla. Stat. §682.13: 
a. Provides for mandatory vacatur of award when:
(i) The award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means.
(ii) There was evident partiality by an arbitrator appointed as a neutral or corruption in any of the arbitrators or umpire or misconduct prejudicing the rights of any party.
(iii) The arbitrators or the umpire in the course of her or his jurisdiction exceeded their powers.
(iv) The arbitrators or the umpire in the course of her or his jurisdiction refused to postpone the hearing upon sufficient cause being shown therefor or refused to hear evidence material to the controversy or otherwise so conducted the hearing, contrary to the provisions of s. 682.06, as to prejudice substantially the rights of a party.
(v) There was no agreement or provision for arbitration subject to this law, unless the matter was determined in proceedings under s. 682.03 and unless the party participated in the arbitration hearing without raising the objection.

b. An application to vacate the award must be made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant, except if predicated upon corruption, fraud, or other undue means, it must be made within 90 days after such grounds are known or should have been known. 

4. Fla. Stat. §682.14: 
a. Provides for mandatory modification or correction of the award upon application made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant, when: 
(i) There is an evident miscalculation of figures or an evident mistake in the description of any person, thing or property referred to in the award.
(ii) The arbitrators or umpire have awarded upon a matter not submitted to them or him or her and the award may be corrected without affecting the merits of the decision upon the issues submitted.
(iii) The award is imperfect as a matter of form, not affecting the merits of the controversy.

Nevertheless, arbitration has numerous advantages over litigation, and these advantages should always be weighed in, on a case by case basis, particularly when determining whether or not to include a mandatory arbitration provision in a contract or other agreement, and the scope, limitation, and method of arbitration.   For a discussion regarding dispute resolution clauses, see the American Arbitration Association’s Practical Guide to Drafting Dispute Resolution Clauses (Amended and Effective September 1, 2007).  


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