Arbitration - Part V
Note: Florida's arbitration code was recently amended. For a discussion regarding those amendments, please go to http://www.gray-robinson.com/attorneys/detail/1262/GaryS-SalzmanBCS
1. Before accepting any appointment, the potential arbitrator must make a “reasonable inquiry” and “disclose to all parties … and to any other arbitrators any known facts that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the person’s impartiality as an arbitrator in the arbitration proceeding.” Fla. Stat. § 682.041(1). Such facts include:
- Any “financial or personal interest in the outcome” of the proceeding.
- An “existing or past relationship with any of the parties …, their counsel or representative, a witness, or another arbitrator.”
Fla. Stat. § 682.041(1) (a)&(b).
2. An arbitrator has a continuing obligation to disclose to all parties and the other arbitrators “any facts that the arbitrator learns after accepting appointment that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the impartiality of the arbitrator.” Fla. Stat. § 682.041(2).
3. If an arbitrator discloses a fact required by Fla. Stat. § 682.041(1) or (2) and a party “timely objects to the appointment or continued service of the arbitrator based upon the fact disclosed, the objection may be a ground” under Fla. Stat. § 682.13(1)(b) for vacating an award of the arbitrator. Fla. Stat. § 682.041(3).
4. If the arbitrator did not disclose a fact required by Fla. Stat. § 682.041(1) or (2), the Court may vacate an award under Fla. Stat. § 682.13(1)(b) upon “timely objection by a party.” Fla. Stat. § 682.041(4).
5. An arbitrator appointed as a neutral who does not disclose a “known, direct, and material interest in the outcome of the arbitration proceeding or a known, existing, and substantial relationship with a party is presumed to act with evident partiality” under Fla. Stat. § 682.13(1)(b). Fla. Stat. § 682.041(5).
6. “If the parties to an arbitration proceeding agree to the procedures of an arbitration organization or any other procedures for challenges to arbitrators before an award is made, substantial compliance with those procedures is a condition precedent to a motion to vacate an award on that ground” under Fla. Stat. § 682.13(1)(b). Fla. Stat. § 682.041(6).