American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) announced that commercial case referred to AAA shall apply to newly revised Commercial Arbitration Rules (the “Rules”) from Oct,1,2013. The main areas of revision are outlined below.

– Mediation in the arbitration

A Subject to the right of any party to opt out, in cases where a claim or counterclaim exceeds $75,000, the rules provide that the parties shall mediate their dispute upon the administration of the arbitration or at any time when the arbitration is pending. In mediation, the neutral mediator assists the parties in reaching a settlement but does not have the authority to make a binding decision or award. Mediation is administered by the AAA in accordance with its Commercial Mediation Procedures. There is no additional filing fee where parties to a pending arbitration attempt to mediate their dispute under the AAA’s auspices. The arbitration progress shall proceeds where parties opt out or cannot reach a settlement. Unless agreed to by all parties and the mediator, the mediator shall not be appointed as an arbitrator to the case. The Rules take mediation as a parallel progress of arbitration in order to effectively resolve disputes as early as possible and cut down expenses for parties.

– Control over Information exchange (discovery)

Arbitrators have a greater degree of control to limit the exchange of information, including electronic documents. Arbitrators have been provided with the authority, such as reaching an unfavorable conclusion, removing evidences and allocation of cost, to respond to parties that refuse to comply with the rules or the arbitrator’s orders.

– New Preliminary Hearings

Arbitrators and parties are provided with detailed guidance on preliminary hearings to help ensure the arbitration proceeds efficiently.

– Emergency Measures of Protection

The AAA will appoint an emergency arbitrator within one day to rule on requests for emergency in contracts that have been entered into on or after October 1, 2013.

– Dispositive Motions

Parties may file a dispositive motion. The arbitrator may allow the filing of and make rulings upon a dispositive motion only if the arbitrator determines that the moving party has shown that the motion is likely to succeed and dispose of or narrow the issues in the case.

AAA stated that the revised Rules fit the need of more efficacious arbitration process.

By clarifying the arbitrator’s authority in the AAA’s revised Commercial Rules, the users of arbitration are provided with the efficiencies of alternative dispute resolution that they expect.

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