Frequently asked questions about the Maritime Arbitration Association of the United States (MAA)
What is the MAA?
The Maritime Arbitration Association of the United States (MAA) is the national organization of the maritime community for alternative dispute resolution.
As a nonprofit organization dedicated to public service, the MAA provides education to the public and professionals about ADR, and administers the ADR process for maritime disputes. We answer the parties’ questions, schedule hearings, and manage communications between the parties until the case is concluded.
How is the MAA different from a court?
The MAA is a nonprofit organization, not a branch of the government. The MAA facilitates alternative dispute resolution (ADR), an out-of-court process that includes arbitration and mediation. ADR is usually faster, simpler and more economical than courtroom litigation. It allows the parties to control the process, not the other way around.
The courts provide litigation as the means resolve disputes. This leads to trials that are costly, complex and time consuming. In most public courts there is little maritime expertise. The MAA offers a panel of maritime law experts to serve as arbitrators and mediators.
ADR is confidential, while courtroom proceedings are public in nature, and often attract the attention of the media. Parties who wish to keep their disputes confidential choose ADR.
How is the MAA similar to a court?
The MAA is similar to court in several ways. In both MAA arbitration and court proceedings, the parties bring their dispute before an impartial tribunal—either an arbitrator or a judge—who renders a decision in favor of one of the parties by applying a set of rules. Both in court and in arbitration a party may conduct discovery, i.e., request testimony or documents from the other side. And a decision in binding arbitration can be enforced by a court like a judgment after trial.
How is the MAA different from other ADR providers?
MAA arbitrators and mediators (neutrals) are peer-reviewed maritime lawyers with at least 15 years’ experience. No other ADR providers require their neutrals to be maritime lawyers. The MAA does not require that disputes be resolved in distant cities or foreign countries. It offers venues in major cities across the United States for the convenience of the parties and witnesses.
Frequently asked questions about MAA arbitration
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a private process in which a dispute is presented to an impartial arbitrator for decision. The arbitrator holds a hearing, during which the parties may present documents and witness testimony, and listens to their arguments why they should prevail. Afterwards, the arbitrator makes a decision in the case, which is written in the form of an award to one of the parties. MAA arbitration awards are based on published rules and established principles of maritime law.
What disputes can be arbitrated?
Legal disputes that otherwise would go to court can be arbitrated. Arbitration is appropriate where the parties wish to achieve a just and equitable decision quickly and economically, especially where they are in a specialized field. For such disputes, arbitrators with subject matter expertise are essential. The MAA’s arbitrators are experts in maritime law with at least 15 years’ experience. They can efficiently resolve the most complex and difficult maritime disputes.
How do I know MAA arbitration is fair?
The MAA is deeply committed to the integrity of the arbitration process. MAA arbitrators are selected only after meeting the highest standards of ethics and professional competence. The MAA’s Rules allow the parties to reject any arbitrator who does not appear to be completely impartial and fair. As a nonprofit organization, the MAA has no relationship with any of the parties in the arbitration, and charges fees solely to cover administrative costs.
Do I have a choice in selecting the arbitrator?
The parties can agree upon the arbitrator or have the arbitrator selected by the MAA. They may challenge any arbitrator under the Rules should they not wish to have that arbitrator appointed in their case.
How much does arbitration cost at the MAA?
The cost of arbitration depends on the size and difficulty of the case. In particular, costs depend on the amount claimed, the hearings required, and the number of arbitrators appointed. The components of cost are the fees of the MAA and the arbitrator. Nonetheless, the overall cost of resolving disputes through arbitration is typically much less than court litigation because lawyers spend less time preparing the case and the decision is made at an earlier date.
Who pays the arbitration fees at the MAA?
The responsibility for arbitration fees depends upon the agreement between the parties and their circumstances. Under some circumstances one party may bear all the fees and in others they may be shared or reduced. Please refer to the appropriate Rules for further details.
Can a party recover its arbitration fees?
In some cases a prevailing party may be receive an award of fees from the opposing party when the case is decided.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to arbitrate?
This is up to the parties. Lawyers are not required in arbitration proceedings though some parties may find it more convenient or effective to be represented by an attorney.
How long does arbitration take at the MAA?
This depends on a number of factors such as the complexity of the dispute, and the schedules of the parties and witnesses. Arbitration is almost always faster than litigation because it avoids congested court dockets.
Can I appeal a binding arbitration decision?
Binding arbitration decisions can be contested in court in a few narrow circumstances. For example, where the arbitrator has manifestly disregarded the law, a court may vacate an otherwise binding arbitration award. The MAA requires its arbitrators to be experienced maritime attorneys to ensure arbitral awards are upheld. Binding arbitration keeps dispute resolution prompt and efficient. It brings the dispute to an end and allows the parties to get back to business.
What do the courts think about arbitration?
Arbitration is strongly favored by the courts. Judges routinely uphold agreements to arbitrate by ordering parties who have filed lawsuits to have their cases decided by arbitration in accordance with their agreements.
How do I have a dispute resolved using arbitration?
Arbitration is commenced by filing and serving a claim in arbitration and paying the filing fees. The claim sets forth the names and contact information for the parties, the nature of the dispute, and the amount of money demanded, or other relief sought. Further information is set forth in the website.
Frequently asked questions about MAA mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is a private process in which the parties voluntarily present a dispute to a mediator for settlement. Mediation requires a meeting between the parties, their representatives and a mediator to discuss settlement. A mediator is an impartial, neutral third person who helps settle their dispute amicably, without litigation. The mediator is not a judge and has no power to decide the case. The goal is for the parties to reach a settlement agreement.
How is mediation different from arbitration?
Mediation is a process that seeks agreement; arbitration results in a decision. Generally alternative dispute resolution proceeds from negotiation to mediation to arbitration. Parties mediating their case are not bound by any decision of the mediator, while parties arbitrating their case may be bound by a decision of the arbitrator. The mediator merely facilitates settlement negotiations between the parties. Effective mediators often have subject matter expertise that allows them to understand how the case might be decided were it to proceed to court. MAA mediators are experienced maritime attorneys who can assist the parties in evaluating the pros and cons of their cases. Importantly, both mediation and arbitration are confidential proceedings.
What types of disputes can be mediated?
Legal disputes that otherwise would go to court can be mediated. Mediation is appropriate where the parties wish to achieve a negotiated settlement. In specialized disputes, arbitrators with subject matter expertise are essential. The MAA’s mediators are experts in maritime law with at least 15 years’ experience. They can efficiently settle the most complex and difficult maritime disputes.
Do I have a choice in selecting the mediator?
The parties can mutually agree to a mediator. The MAA can assist the parties to select a mediator suitable for their dispute.
How much does mediation cost at the MAA?
The cost of mediation depends on the size and difficulty of the case. The components of cost are the fees of the MAA and the mediator.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to mediate?
This is up to the parties. Lawyers are not required in mediation proceedings though some parties may find it more convenient or effective to be represented by an attorney.
How do I request mediation through the MAA?
Mediation is commenced the parties’ requesting a mediation session through the MAA. Further information is set forth in this website.