You have a dispute that appears to be headed for court. Or you have a dispute that is already in court. No agreement to arbitrate disputes is in place. Since no agreement to arbitrate disputes is in place, your only option from here is to duke it out in court, right? Wrong!
It is never too late for arbitration to save you from going to court, or to move your dispute, once in court, to arbitration. The process to accomplish this is by “submission”. That is, you and your adversary “submit” your dispute to the arbitration process.
Arbitration is not something that you can unilaterally force upon the other side; the other side may be content for the court to control the process. In that case, all you can do is gird your loins for the upcoming ordeal. If, on the other hand, you and the other side agree, arbitration is available.
If both sides have lawyers, those lawyers can work out the details. If you have a lawyer but the other party does not, your lawyer can propose arbitration to the unrepresented party. If the other party has a lawyer but you do not, you can propose arbitration to the other party, or their lawyer. Or you can seek the services of a lawyer to do that on your behalf.
If the parties agree upon arbitration before court papers are ever filed, arbitration can resolve the dispute without the court ever getting involved. If the case has already been filed with the court, the court proceedings can be voluntarily dismissed “without prejudice” and the case moved to arbitration the same as if the case were never filed with the court in the first place.
Before presenting the dispute to arbitration, an arbitration agreement must be in place. The takeaway from this discussion is that, until the court has ultimately resolved the dispute, it is never too late to adopt an arbitration agreement and remove the dispute from the clutches of the court.
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