2. Contract calls for arbitration but no provider is named
Sometimes the contract will specify the use of arbitration but not name the provider or will name a provider other than A.A.M.S . When this occurs, both parties must agree in writing to use A.A.M.S. The parties fulfill this requirement by both signing a Choice of Forum form. Once this is completed, the claiming party then files with A.A.M.S. a Demand for Arbitration, and the responding party may, but is not required to, file a response.
3. No arbitration contact clause
When there is no existing written agreement to refer disputes to arbitration, both parties must agree in writing to submit their dispute to arbitration with A.A.M.S. by completing the Arbitration Submission Agreement and Attachment form. In this form, provided by A.A.M.S., both parties need to be specific about the information they supply as it will determine what issues may be presented to the arbitrator.
About the Arbitrators
Neither legal training nor extensive knowledge of the law is a pre-requisite to be an arbitrator, but they must be familiar with the requisite formalities and documentation involved in the process. A.A.M.S. trains all its arbitrators in these formalities and communications skills.
A.A.M.S has many artists, arts administrators and attorneys specializing in art and entertainment law on its volunteer arbitrator panel.
Selecting an Arbitrator and a Date
To set up the arbitration hearing the administrator sends the parties a list of potential arbitrators with a brief description about their backgrounds which the parties return after striking out names which they feel are inappropriate. Potential arbitrators are asked to disclose any facts which would prevent them from being neutral in relation to the parties or the situation. Prior dealings or relationships would, unless all of the parties consent, result in disqualification.
Similarly, a calendar is sent to the parties for their return after striking out unavailable dates. The administrator can then select a mutually acceptable arbitrator and date.
If either party does not return these required forms within a 10day period, the administrator will presume that all dates and potential arbitrators are suitable. A Notice of Time and Place of the Arbitration Hearing is sent to the parties with at least 10 days notice of the date of the hearing.
Attorneys are Optional
In most instances, persons represent themselves at the arbitration hearing. Sometimes parties seek prior consultations with attorneys in order to develop a presentation strategy or for a review of their legal position. If a party chooses to be represented by an attorney during the hearing, the other side must be notified, through A.A.M.S., at least 10 days prior to the hearing. (Notice by telephone is sufficient.)
The arbitration hearing is opened when the arbitrator takes an oath in front of the parties promising to render an impartial decision. The arbitrator usually proceeds by asking the complaining party to present his/her case with any relevant evidence, followed by the other side. Since the arbitration is final, quasi judicial and somewhat formal, the arbitrator must maintain absolute impartiality, decorum and a sense of fairness. At the same time, the arbitrator has some flexibility in conducting the hearing.
Because evidence rules are not applied in arbitration, there is a great deal of flexibility in deciding the relevance of the proffered evidence. In order to maintain an aura of fairness, it is usually best to "hear it all." However evidence that is poorly documented, hearsay, circumstantial, or mere opinion will be viewed with skepticism. Furthermore, each party should have the opportunity to comment on the documentation submitted by the other side.
As a matter of policy, the A.A.M.S. Arbitration Rules emphasize mediation at every stage of the process. Even during arbitration, arbitrators are encouraged to promote the parties' own negotiations toward agreement and to direct them towards any settlement possibilities.
Closing the Hearing
The hearing is closed after the parties have covered all their issues and presented their documentation. At the discretion of the arbitrator, the hearing may be left open for the submission of additional evidence. If so, each party will have an opportunity to see the additional documentation and comment upon it. In no case are the parties to contact the arbitrator directly; they should direct all communications through A.A.M.S.staff.