August 25, 2017 Practice Points

Florida Provides Private Arbitration and Appeal Process

By Larry Leiby

Florida has a general arbitration code (Chap 682 Fla. Stats.) and an international commercial arbitration code (Chap 684 Fla. Stats.).

In addition, Florida has a statutory section (F.S. 44.104) found under the general heading of JUDICIAL BRANCH MEDIATION ALTERNATIVES TO JUDICIAL ACTION that provides for "voluntary binding arbitration or private trial resolution judge."

Under the Chapter 44 process, the arbitrator or private trial resolution judge must follow the law and the rules of evidence that apply in court. The statute also provides that the award may be "appealed" to the circuit (state trial level) court. Thus, under F.S. 44.104, parties may choose to arbitrate their dispute using this statutory process instead of using the courts. This statutory arbitration process appeals to lawyers and parties who want the rules of evidence to apply and who want the arbitration result to be subject to a greater level of review than normally applies to arbitration awards.

A recent case has held that, under this Chapter 44 procedure, the review by the circuit court is final. There is no further review to any other appellate court. See Kaplan v. Epstein. 42 Fla. L. Weekly D1066 (Fla. 4th DCA May 3, 2017)

Larry Leiby is of counsel at Malka & Kravitz, P.S. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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