Arbitration Terms & Conditions
Mindful of the high cost of litigation, not only in dollars but also in time and energy, by engaging Stees, Walker & Company, LLP, its clients intend to, do hereby establish and agree to a binding out-of-court dispute resolution procedure to be followed pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth below in the event any controversy, claim or dispute may arise out of or relate to any aspect of the parties’ engagement including, but not limited to, all fee disputes and allegations of professional malpractice.
By signing our engagement agreement and agreeing to binding arbitration, the force and effect of such consent will include the following:
- Each of us is waiving our respective rights to a trial and to seek remedies available in court proceedings;
- Pre-arbitration discovery is generally more limited than and different from court proceedings;
- The arbitrator's award is not required to identify all of the factual findings or legal reasoning relied upon in rendering the statement of decision; and
- Each of our respective rights to appeal or to seek modification of the award is strictly limited and the award is final and binding upon each of us.
For purposes of this binding arbitration provision to the Stees, Walker & Company, LLP engagement agreement, Stees, Walker & Company, LLP and its clients shall collectively be referred to as the “parties.” The parties do agree as follows:
1. The parties shall promptly submit any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to any aspect of the parties’ engagement including, but not limited to, all fee disputes and allegations of professional malpractice, irrespective of whether such controversy, claim or dispute sounds in tort, contract, or otherwise, at equity or at law, or any alleged breach, including, but not limited to, any matter with respect to the meaning, effect, validity, termination, interpretation, performance or enforcement of the parties engagement agreement to binding arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association (hereinafter referred to as the “AAA”).
2. Arbitration shall be initiated in the following manner:
2.1 Unless barred by the statute of limitations, the aggrieved party (hereinafter referred to as the "claimant") may initiate an arbitration by serving upon the other party a notice of the nature of the claim and a demand for arbitration. A claim shall be forever barred if, in accordance with the notice provisions contained below, the claim, if asserted in a civil action, would be barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
2.2 The claimant shall file a copy of the Demand for Arbitration and Notice of Claim at the nearest office of the AAA, together with the appropriate filing fee as provided in the AAA's existing fee schedule.
2.3 If the responding party desires to file a response or counterclaim, the party must do so within fourteen (14) days of service of the demand. Failure to file a counterclaim or response will not operate to delay the arbitration proceedings.
2.4 After the filing of the claim, response or counterclaim, no further claims or counterclaims may be made except on motion to the arbitrator.
3. The controversy, claim or dispute shall be submitted to a single arbitrator chosen by the parties from the AAA's panel of commercial arbitrators. Should the parties be unable to agree on a choice of arbitrator within fourteen (14) days from service of the demand for arbitration, then either party may request the AAA's administrator to furnish a list of three (3) names and each side may strike one name, thereby nominating the remaining person as replacement arbitrator. If more than one name remains, the AAA's administrator shall choose an arbitrator from the list of remaining names. The parties and the arbitrator shall comply with the following guidelines:
3.1 If the designated arbitrator should die, become incapable of, unwilling to, or unable to serve or proceed with the arbitration, then the party or parties appointing the arbitrator shall have the power to appoint another in their stead, and such substituted arbitrator shall have all such powers as if he or she had been originally appointed.
3.2 The arbitrator shall have full power to make such regulations and to give all such orders and directions as he or she shall deem just and expedient, not only in respect to the matters and disputes referred to the arbitrator but also with respect to the mode and times of executing and performing any of the acts, deeds, matters, and things that may be directed to be done or awarded.
3.3 Should either party refuse or neglect to appoint the arbitrator or to furnish the arbitrator with any papers or information demanded, then the arbitrator is empowered by both parties to proceed ex parte.
3.4 The arbitrator shall have the authority and power to request the production of any books or records in the possession, custody or control of either of the parties, and to order that either party shall in the meantime have access to and be permitted to inspect and take copies of all or any of the same relating to the matters in dispute.
3.5 The arbitrator shall have the authority and power to proceed ex parte if either party shall fail, after reasonable notice, to attend hearings before him or her.
3.6 The arbitrator may grant any remedy or relief that the arbitrator deems just and equitable and within the scope of the agreement of the parties, including, but not limited to, injunctive relief and specific performance of a contract.
4. Each party shall initially be responsible for their own costs and expenses of the arbitration, and the costs and fees of the AAA shall be borne equally by the parties. In addition to awarding damages, the arbitrator is authorized to award the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the party whom the arbitrator determines is the prevailing party.
5. Once the arbitrator is chosen, the administrator at the AAA may be directed upon application of any party to schedule a pre-hearing conference with the arbitrator for the purpose of narrowing the issues, establishing a discovery schedule, arranging an acceptable procedure for any law and motion proceedings and in all respects arranging for the most expeditious hearing possible of the matters in dispute.
6. Discovery shall be at the discretion of the arbitrator and allowed only upon a showing of good cause using the following guidelines:
6.1 The arbitrator shall have discretion to order a pre-hearing exchange of information including, but not limited to, the production of requested documents and exchanges of summaries of testimony of proposed witnesses.
6.2 The depositions of the claimant(s) and respondent(s) shall be allowed as a matter of right. One set of interrogatories to each party shall be allowed. There shall be an early and prompt designation and exchange of the names and addresses of expert witnesses who may be called upon to testify at the arbitration hearing. Their depositions and all other is discovery shall be allowed only upon a showing of good cause.
7. Formal rules of evidence relating to the order of proof, the conduct of the hearing and the presentation and admissibility of evidence shall not be applicable in this proceeding. Any relevant evidence, including hearsay, may be admitted by the arbitrator if it is the sort of evidence upon which responsible persons are accustomed to rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the admissibility of such evidence in a court of law.
8. The award shall be made by the arbitrator on or before fourteen (14) days after final submission of all matters, or within such extended time, not exceeding altogether fourteen (14) additional days, as the arbitrator shall from time to time direct.
9. In rendering the award, the arbitrator shall set forth the factual and legal reasons for his or her decision.
10. The arbitration shall follow the procedural and substantive laws of the state of California. This includes the provisions of statutory law dealing with arbitration, as they may exist at the time of the demand for arbitration, to the extent that such law is not in conflict with the terms and conditions contained herein, and specifically excepting sections of the statute dealing with discovery and requiring notice of a hearing date by registered or certified mail.
11. Each party shall be deemed to agree that any papers, notices, or process necessary or proper for communication to the other party and the arbitrator may be served by mail, addressed to the party or representative at the last known address, or by personal service, in or outside the state in which the arbitration takes place, provided that reasonable opportunity to be heard has been granted to the party. The arbitrator or the parties may consent to the use of fax transmission, telex, telegram, or other written forms of electronic communication to give the notices required by this Agreement.
12. The award of the arbitrator shall be final and binding upon the parties without appeal or review except as permitted by the arbitration laws of the State of California. Application may be had by any party to any court of general jurisdiction for entry and enforcement of judgment based on the award.