What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute with a company without the formality and expense of having to go to court. It allows you to have your dispute decided by a neutral third party, rather than the company. The "arbitrator" - the person who decides your dispute - acts like a judge and has the power to issue binding decisions about your claim. Arbitrations filed through Radvocate are administered by the American Arbitration Association - a non-profit that administers arbitrations.
Do I have to arbitrate?
Many companies require you to resolve disputes with them through individual arbitration. The companies listed on Radvocate's website all include a clause in their contracts that prohibit you from filing a traditional lawsuit or joining a class action against them. However, many companies and the AAA permit you to file eligible claims in small claims court.
Who is who?
The "Arbitrator" is like a judge - she or he listens to your story and evidence (and those of the company) and issues a decision about how your dispute should be resolved. The arbitrator is often a practicing lawyer or retired judge who has no connections to you or the company.
The "Claimant" is you - the person who is submitting a claim against the company.
The "Respondent" is the company that you're filing a claim against - they are the ones who have to "respond" to your claim in front of the arbitrator.
The American Arbitration Association is a non-profit organization that administers arbitrations - they appoint case administrators and arbitrators and provide the procedural rules for the arbitration.
Does Arbitration cost me money?
This depends on the agreement between you and the company. The American Arbitration Association requires both you and the company to pay "filing fees" and cover other costs associated with the arbitration, but in many cases the company has agreed to pay all of those fees, or reimburse you for the portion that you have to pay. Radvocate sometimes covers your portion of any filing fees (and is entitled to their reimbursements). In addition to filing fees, you may have to pay the company's legal fees if you file a fake or frivolous claim.
What happens IN AN arbitration?
The arbitrator will listen to both you and the company and may ask you and the company to provide proof of what you each say. This may happen through emails (a "documents-only" proceeding), over the phone or, in some cases, in person. The arbitrator will then consider everything she or he has learned and will issue a decision - an order that resolves the dispute, just like in court. This order is binding and, in most cases, final.