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History and Purpose of Arbitration
The purpose of arbitration is give parties a chance to resolve smaller claims without having to go through the time and expense of a formal trial. It is basically a chance to have three independent attorneys decide on the value of a claim.
Appointment and Qualification of Arbitrators
Notice of Hearing
Prior to Hearing
A pre-arbitration memorandum must be filed and served seven (7) days prior to the hearing. The form is provided by the Court in Chester County, but parties are free to draft and submit their own forms so long as they conform to the local rules. As stated in the memorandum form counsel for all parties must confer to stipulate to any matters prior to the hearing in order to expedite the matter.
NOTE: The pre-arb memos frequently disappear from the file prior to reaching the Board of Arbitration. Always bring 5 or more extra copies to any hearing for the Board and any opposing counsel.
Conduct of Hearing
In an abritration hearing, the rules of evidence and procedure are more relaxed, but still important. All witnesses are sworn before giving testimony. There is no official court reporter at the hearing, however, parties are free to pay for the own reporters to record any testimony as would happen in a deposition.
Unfortunately, the Board usually has no idea what type of case it has been assigned and will often have to fly by the seat of its pants in making rulings. Frequently the attorneys will not be familiar with the area of the law being presented at the hearing. Usually the Chair of the Board has enough general knowlege of the law to guide the hearing successfully, but occassionally the Chair is utterly clueless as to the subject matter or even the general rules of trial. Try your best to adjust to the circumstances.
As at trial, be prepared for evidentiary and legal rulings go against you and have supporting authority to back up your positions. Print-outs of cases and short legal memorandum are extremely helpful in this regard. Even if the legal memorandum are not read on the spot, the Board will frequently go over them when discussing the case after the parties have been dismissed.
The Board of Arbitration is only permitted to make a monetary award and not issue any opinions as to particular legal issues. The Board is therefore not permitted to make Declaratory Judgments or any rulings involving Equity matters. If these types of cases are accidently listed for compulsory arbitration, contact the Court Administrator to find out he proper procedure to have them delisted.
An appeal must be taken within 30 days of the docketing of the award. The party appealing the decision must pay the Court for the fees of the arbitrators.
Chester County does not follow the requirement of provided pre-paid envelopes. The parties are just to serve the notice of appeal on all other counsel of record.
Applicable PA Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 1301. Scope
Rule 1303. Hearing. Notice
Rule 1304. Conduct of Hearing. Generally
Rule 1305. Conduct of Hearing. Evidence
Rule 1306. Award
Rule 1307. Award. Docketing. Notice. Lien. Judgment. Molding the Award
Rule 1308. Appeal. Arbitrators' Compensation. Notice
Rule 1309. Parties to Appeal
Rule 1310. Discontinuance
Rule 1311. Procedure on Appeal. Generally
Rule 1311.1. Procedure on Appeal. Admission of Documentary Evidence
Rule 1312. Form of Oath, Award and Notice of Entry of Award
Rule 1313. Form of Notice of Appeal
Rule 1314. Suspension of Acts of Assembly. Abolition of Practice and Procedure under Repealed Statutes
Applicable Chester County Rules of Civil Procedure
RULE 1301.1. CASES FOR SUBMISSION TO ARBITRATION
RULE 1302.1. ADMINISTRATION
RULE 1302.2. CHAIR OF ARBITRATION BOARDS
RULE 1303.1. HEARINGS
RULE 1303.2. PRE-ARBITRATION MEMORANDUM
RULE 1306.2. AWARD, WHERE THERE IS COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE OR APPORTIONMENT AMONG JOINT TORTFEASORS
RULE 1308.1. COMPENSATION OF ARBITRATORS
Notice of Appeal
[These will link to forms on the local server that will pop up as Word documents to be edited and saved in client folders.]