This bill rewrites the Uniform Arbitration Act. This revised Act, according to the commissioners on uniform state laws, addresses issues such as the issuance of provisional remedies; initiation and consolidation of arbitration proceedings; disclosures of facts that may affect impartiality; immunity of arbitrators; whether arbitrators may be required to testify; whether arbitrators may order discovery and take other actions; whether courts may enforce certain rulings of the arbitrator; remedies an arbitrator may award; award of attorney's fees when an arbitrator's award is appealed; waivable provisions of the Act; and the use of electronic information.
This bill specifies that the revised Act applies to agreements to arbitrate made on or after this bill's effective date; however, it may apply to agreements to arbitrate made prior to this bill's effective date if all parties to the agreement or to the arbitration proceeding agree to such. This bill further specifies that on or after its effective date, this bill governs an agreement to arbitrate whenever made.
Some items of note in this bill that differ from the existing Act are as follows:
(1) This bill provides that various of its provisions may be waived, and specifies particular provisions that may not be waived, such as the provision whereby an agreement to submit a dispute to arbitration is valid;
(2) This bill allows a court to order provisional remedies during arbitration before an arbitrator is selected. This bill also allows an arbitrator to order provisional remedies, including interim awards;
(3) This bill requires an individual who is requested to serve as an arbitrator to disclose to all parties to the agreement to arbitrate and arbitration proceeding and to other arbitrators known facts that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the impartiality of the arbitrator;
(4) This bill provides an arbitrator or an arbitration organization acting in that capacity with immunity from civil liability to the same extent as a judge of a court of this state acting in a judicial capacity;
(5) This bill allows the arbitrator to hold conferences with the parties to the arbitration proceeding before the hearing and, among other matters, determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality, and weight of evidence. This bill also adds authority for an arbitrator to decide a request for summary disposition of a claim or particular issue;
(6) This bill specifically authorizes an arbitrator to:
(A) Award punitive damages or other exemplary relief, if the award is authorized by law in a civil action involving the same claim and the evidence produced at the hearing justifies the award under the legal standards otherwise applicable to the claim; and
(B) Award reasonable attorney's fees and other reasonable expenses of arbitration, if the award is authorized by law in a civil action involving the same claim or by the agreement of the parties to the arbitration proceeding; and
(7) This bill allows consolidation of separate arbitration proceedings.
AMENDMENT #1 prohibits, in any case governed by present law provisions governing arbitration, class or collective arbitrations from being permitted, unless the agreements to arbitrate of all parties to be joined expressly permit the arbitrator or arbitrators to entertain such actions. This amendment also clarifies that an arbitrator may only award punitive damages under this bill for cases which the agreement of the parties does not exclude the seeking of punitive damages.