The author is a professor of law at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He is a past chairman of the Miami Maritime Arbitration Council and a past vice chairman of the Miami International Arbitration & Mediation Institute.
Of all the decisions that an arbitrator must make in the course of a hearing, none is more difficult than ruling on an application for a postponement. If the motion is denied, the arbitrator's award may be subject to later challenge. If the request is granted, the expectation of the other party that the dispute will be resolved in an expeditious manner may be frustrated.1
The issue becomes particularly problematic when the reason for the request is that a criminal proceeding has been instituted that involves the same facts, witnesses, or parties as those in the arbitration. 2 Going forward with the arbitration while the criminal charges are pending raises the possibility that an individual will be forced to choose between making a self-incriminating statement and withholding evidence.3
Despite the fact that requests for adjournments based on the existence of parallel criminal proceedings (PCP) occur with some frequency, to date only a handful of courts have considered the issue and the subject has escaped scholarly attention.4