How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration in Florida
George Simons | October 19, 2022
Summary: Are you being sued for an old debt? Learn how to make a motion to compel arbitration in Florida.
Have you been sued over unpaid debt in Florida? If so, don't panic; you may be able to avoid going to court by filing a motion to compel the debt collector into an arbitration. If granted, both of you will appear before an arbitrator who'll hear the case and provide a binding ruling.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of conflict resolution that avoids traditional court proceedings. Instead, the parties involved in the conflict appear before one or more arbitrators, usually out of court, where the matter is resolved with a binding decision.
The arbitration process is often cheaper, faster, and private compared to litigation. Many people, however, confuse arbitration with the mediation process. Although both processes are held out of court, meditation doesn't end in a binding agreement.
The mediator only helps the parties reach an agreement but doesn't have the power to decide the case or force either party to agree or participate in the process.
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How debt arbitration works
Debt arbitration is sometimes referred to as debt negotiation or debt settlement, and it offers a real-world solution to an unrelenting debt dispute. This is when a creditor and client agree to settle the debt out of court for a lesser amount, presided over by an arbitrator.
The process can be initiated by the creditor, client, or sometimes through a court order. It usually occurs if several debt collection efforts by the creditor, including a lawsuit, fail to work.
If you'd like to initiate the arbitration process, you must understand the preceding conditions of the process. The Florida state laws have a slightly different way of handling arbitration cases when compared to federal laws.
However, the basic elements for arbitration are:
- An existing contract with an arbitration provision.
- A legal dispute falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.
- The party intends to use arbitration to settle the dispute.
- The location of the arbitration tribunal, often mentioned in the arbitration clause.
- Type of court to pursue the tribunal; either the state or the federal court. Some arbitration clauses mention the type of court to be used for the process.
In Florida, the state arbitration laws slightly differ from the federal arbitration laws. You'll also need to find out what each law says about your specific type of arbitration or, better yet, seek the help of an attorney who is conversant with these procedures.
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How to make a motion to compel arbitration in Florida
These are the steps to follow once you've collected enough information needed for the arbitration process.
1. Draft a petition compelling for an arbitration
In this petition, you should state all the facts about the dispute and the intention of the arbitration. The petition will also include the following:
- The text of the arbitration agreement.
- A request for an arbitration order for the other party.
- Identities of the parties of the lawsuit.
- Notice of hearing.
- The court's jurisdiction over the lawsuit.
- Your signature.
2. File the petition
The next step is to file the original petition with the court's clerk personally or through your lawyer. Bear in mind that you may be required to pay filing fees.
3. Schedule the hearing
A notice of hearing should be filed along with the petition, honoring the five days of notice provided by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
4. Notify the other party
It's your responsibility to notify the other party of the arbitration using the right methods of service. The notice must include the following:
- Summons (an order to appear before a judge).
- Copy of the complaint.
- Notice of hearing.
But if you choose to file via SoloSuit, the software will notify the other party on your behalf.
5. Attend the hearing
At the hearing, the judge will determine the validity of the arbitration agreement, and the issues presented. If these issues aren't conflicting, the judge will issue an order to compel the arbitration.
However, in the event of a dispute, the case will go to trial to determine whether the agreement is valid and if either of the parties violates any of the agreements.
Is an arbitration decision final?
The decision of the arbitration is final and legally binding. The final decision of the case is called an award and has a similar impact as the decision by a jury or a judge in a common court case.
After both parties have presented their evidence and arguments, the arbitrator will close the hearings disallowing further arguments or evidence from being presented. Afterward, the award will be sent to the parties within 14 to 30 days after the end of the hearing.
Both parties must honor the award even though the arbitrator can't impose any authority on either party to obey the award. However, if one party fails to honor the arbitration, the other party can proceed to court to confirm the arbitration award.
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Advantages of Arbitration over Litigation
Many debt collectors and their clients often settle for arbitration over litigation because of the various advantages of the process. These include:
- Cost-Effective. Arbitration is often cheaper because it's shorter, eliminating the expensive costs of interrogating witnesses, among other pre-trial processes.
- Privacy. Arbitration proceedings are done privately without the scrutiny of the public.
- Soundness of judgment. Arbitrators are usually selected by the parties involved and carry on the case from start to finish, unlike litigation, where the cases can be assigned to different judges.
- Joinder of Parties. Both parties reach a common agreement, unlike in litigation, where the ruling is often in favor of one party over the other.
Being sued for a debt in Florida isn't the end of the world - you have so many options to consider. However, knowing what to do and when to do it is what matters most. If you need help making a motion to compel arbitration in Florida, SoloSuit is here to help in three simple steps.
All you need to do is answer a few simple questions regarding your story. Then, an actual customer protection attorney will review your entire answer document. When done, SoloSuit will file your answer for you and print two copies - one for the court and the other for the plaintiff.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
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