You can use any set of rules without having the case administered by an arbitration service provider like the American Arbitration Association, JAMS, or the American Health Lawyers Association. However, there are important benefits in using a provider.
Using a provider allows both sides to get lists of arbitrators who have met—and continue to meet—their standards. It allows for the provider to select the arbitrator when the parties cannot agree on one person.
If the parties want to have a particular expertise and this is not shown on the profiles of the initial list of arbitrators, the provider can ask people on its list to state whether they have this expertise, and a tailored list can be sent to the parties.
If the parties have not agreed on an arbitrator and one party is seeking to compel arbitration, the court will be reassured by the use of a recognized neutral provider.
Even if both sides agree on the arbitrator they want to use, there are still benefits to using a provider:
- It is a lot more comfortable for the arbitrator and the parties if there is an independent entity sending invoices to the parties and receiving payments.
- The case manager can answer questions about the process.
- AAA case managers usually read the award before it is released to the parties, making sure it is correct in form, checking to see if the arithmetic is correct, and checking for obvious omissions. Particularly with inexperienced arbitrators, this can help make the award enforceable.
- If the parties fail to pay a bill and the arbitration still proceeds, the provider will seek to collect the bill, and the arbitrator does not have to sue the party.
Nevertheless, many parties agree on their choice of arbitrator and do not use an arbitration service provider. Some of my cases have always fit within this category. We sort out the rules to use, and everything else, in the Case Management Conference.