The Use of Dispositive Motions in Arbitration - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 62, No. 3
Alfred G. Ferris is a full-time neutral and a commercial, construction and employment arbitrator and mediator. He serves on the American Arbitration Association’s Large, Complex Case Panel. He is of counsel with the San Diego law firm of Ferris & Britton APC, of which he was a founding partner. W. Lee Biddle is an associate with the firm, practicing in the area of business litigation.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Because a motion for summary disposition could be an efficient way to bring an arbitration proceeding to an end, arbitrators, parties and practitioners should learn when such a motion could be made and heard.
This article addresses a basic arbitration practice question—what role do dispositive motions have in arbitration? For purposes of this article, dispositive motions are motions that would be considered dispositive by a court, such as a motion for summary judgment, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and a motion to strike particular claims or defenses. In arbitration, these motions are considered under the general rubric of “summary dispositions” or “partial summary dispositions.”
Dispositive motions in litigation frequently provide the most efficient means of limiting the scope of the litigation or even ending it, saving the client’s and the court’s resources and reducing or eliminating the risk of an adverse judgment. The same considerations could apply in arbitration. The reason is that not every claim or defense brought in arbitration is sufficient to require a hearing on the merits. A claim made in arbitration could be just as ripe for disposition without a full evidentiary hearing as a claim brought in civil court. Thus, in some situations, it could be appropriate for a party to make, and the arbitrator to hear, a dispositive motion. Under these circumstances, hearing such a motion may facilitate the arbitrator’s discharge of the duty that he or she “shall conduct the proceedings with a view to expediting the resolution of the dispute.”1