When I was in law school, (and a self-represented litigant), we were taught that there are “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) mechanisms, for litigants to settle their disputes out of court. One is mediation, which I really like. (Unfortunately in my lawsuit, no one was particularly keen on going there!) Another is arbitration.

To be honest, I was not impressed about the arbitration procedure. As I understood, arbitration is like private court, with all the complicated rules. So, I thought it would be even more expensive than going to court! Not only do you have to hire your lawyer, as usual, you also have to pay the arbitrator, which is quite a great deal more expensive than paying court fees. In addition, I was not sure how one would go about choosing an arbitrator to ensure impartiality. One of the good things about court is that a judge is randomly assigned to your case. In an arbitration, the parties choose their arbitrator. But wouldn’t the arbitrator tend to favour whoever chose them?

I had many doubts and many questions! But, after speaking with John-Paul Boyd, I had a much better understanding of arbitration. Court procedures include lots, and lots of steps before you get to trial. If parties agree to arbitrate, you can bypass the steps. I remember there were several pre-trial conferences, and assignment court hearings. There were a couple of motions in our lawsuit, and each motion has so many steps and takes up months and months of time. And, trial procedure involves rules that are convoluted and complex. I had often wondered why civil dispute litigants cannot simply have a wise learned person adjudicate their case, rather than subject themselves to the cumbersome court system to resolve their dispute. As it turns out, this is what arbitration is!

I had a wonderful time a few weeks ago in my conversation with John-Paul Boyd. In this video series, which has undergone very little editing, John-Paul patiently explains to me what arbitration is really about. It finally hit me about the advantage of being able to mutually agree to a set of rules of procedure that is proportionate and makes sense to the matter in question. It is also not true that you cannot represent yourself in an arbitration. I just remember thinking after our conversation how much I regret not giving arbitration a chance when I was a litigant. At least I now get to share our conversation with everyone.

The video series premieres August 5, 2020, and runs until September. Subscribe and click the bell to stay notified!

1. What is Arbitration? https://youtu.be/QdhIFC2kcBU  (Aug. 5, 2020)

2. What to Expect at Arbitration? https://youtu.be/wMY4O1Zhvo4  (Aug. 12, 2020)

3. Can you Represent yourself at Arbitration? https://youtu.be/wAwgsghL8zI  (Aug 19, 2020)

4. Can you change your mind in Arbitration? https://youtu.be/MeUbtfeCI04 (Aug. 26, 2020)

5. How to Select an Arbitrator? https://youtu.be/FuPi_44MX-E (Sept. 2, 2020)

6. What’s the Difference between Binding and Non-Binding Arbitration https://youtu.be/GDq0ZmRu-60  (Sept. 9, 2020)

7. Understanding your Arbitration Agreement and Arbitration Retainer? https://youtu.be/GzHfrmeGSxU  (Sept. 16, 2020)

Many thanks to John-Paul Boyd. He is a lawyer and arbitrator. He practices in Alberta and British Columbia. His website is: https://www.boydarbitration.ca/