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NJSBA Submits Report on Arbitration to Supreme Court
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association released its Arbitration Report to Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz in early November following a year-long effort to review the court-annexed arbitration process in New Jersey. The Board of Trustees adopted the report at the October 17, 2003 meeting.
“This evaluation of the current system offers an opportunity for New Jersey to embrace national trends toward mediation, and other innovative dispute resolution reforms,” said NJSBA President Karol Corbin Walker. “This multi-option system, which has proven successful in the federal courts, would substitute New Jersey’s one-size-fits-all approach with a new dynamic allowing parties to tailor the appropriate complementary dispute resolution device to their particular case.”
The study was launched in 2002 when then NJSBA President Richard J. Badolato appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Arbitration to undertake a thorough and objective examination of mandatory arbitration in New Jersey to ascertain its effectiveness in disposing of cases, utilizing resources, and addressing litigant concerns. Badolato designated Trustee Lewis Stein to serve as chair of the committee.
The NJSBA raised concerns regarding mandatory arbitration in the Civil Division in the past. In 1996, the NJSBA objected to the expansion of arbitration that was being considered as a standard by the Conference of Civil Presiding Judges. The issue resurfaced in 1999 when the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) issued a report to the Legislature touting the effectiveness of statutorily mandated arbitration for automobile and personal injury cases while at the same time, rejection rates of arbitration awards were steadily increasing. In 2000-2001, the rejection rates had reached almost 75 percent of the 27,285 cases arbitrated.
The NJSBA Arbitration Report examined the court-sponsored arbitration process with the cooperation of the AOC and Civil Practice staff. The report was also published for comment soliciting responses from NJSBA members, county and specialty bar associations, and others.
“During this process, we believe the report was mischaracterized as an effort to eliminate court referred arbitration in New Jersey. This was never the NJSBA’s intention,” said Walker. “Comments offered by various groups challenged the underlying statistical and evidential basis for the conclusions drawn by the NJSBA’s Ad Hoc Committee ignoring the fact that we relied exclusively on data provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts,” she said.
The NJSBA Report on Arbitration is available at www.njsba.com, under NJSBA Reports and Section and Committee Updates.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.
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