Nonparty Discovery in California Arbitration: How to Get What You Want

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One of the largest roadblocks for cases in California arbitrations is “streamlining” discovery from nonparties.

March 2, 2020
Leilani E. Jones - Payne & Fears

This article was originally published for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ATBL) Report, Volume XX, No. 3, Winter 2018 by attorney Leilani L. Jones.

Opting for arbitration requires attorneys to balance efficiency and procedural protections. The implications of arbitration are something clients certainly have to carefully consider both when drafting arbitration provisions, and after initiating a demand. While arbitration can in many respects streamline the civil discovery process, one of the largest roadblocks for cases in California arbitrations is “streamlining” discovery from nonparties. This article explores the challenges presented by third party discovery in arbitration, and proposes strategies for obtaining such discovery efficiently and expeditiously.

Alternative dispute resolution tends to make sense to most businesses implementing preventive measures for future litigation. Clients, lawyers, and judges can generally agree that arbitration is the more “cost-effective” way to resolve disputes, especially in California. While arbitration is theoretically a lowcost option for dispute resolution, almost all parties (particularly the party defending) bristle at climbing expenditures during discovery. This is all despite the perception of more “streamlined” processes in arbitrations. On balance, arbitrators, employing less formal procedures for discovery disputes, can typically cut to the chase faster than a civil judge. Parties often resolve issues via letter brief and telephonic hearing, if necessary, instead of formal noticed motions with accompanying separate statements. The Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc.’s (“JAMS”) own “Arbitration Discovery Protocols” specifically “ensure that an arbitration will be resolved much less expensively and in much less time than if it had been litigated in court.” Accessed at https:// www.jamsadr.com/arbitration-discovery-protocols.

Ms. Jones may be contacted at llj@paynefears.com



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