Arbitration has made a place for itself in modern dispute resolution as an alternative to litigation largely due to its relative speed and efficiency in deciding disputes. As arbitration has become more complex, however, some parties have introduced some of the trappings of litigation—in particular, more expansive discovery and motion practice—to the arbitration process. Of particular interest is the use of dispositive motions by arbitrators to bring cases more quickly to a conclusion.
In many ways, this is a sensible development. Arbitration is, as is so often said, a creature of contract. The parties have agreed to submit themselves to the binding decision of the arbitrator, and this means that the parties have broad discretion to fashion the process to better serve their shared and individual interests. To the extent that parties want to explicitly empower arbitrators to dispose of claims through the use of dispositive motions, they are free to do so. The courts have largely not clipped the wings of arbitrators who have made use of dispositive motions. These developments weigh in favor of broader use of dispositive motions in arbitration.