Arbitration clauses can be very important parts of commercial contracts. As with any contract clause, one of the keys is understanding exactly what situations the clause covers and what situations it doesn’t. Florida law says that “no party may be forced to submit a dispute to arbitration that the party did not intend and agree to arbitrate.” In other words, there must be a clearly enforceable arbitration clause and it must clearly cover the dispute at issue, or else there is no right to seek compulsory arbitration. Without question, whether you are seeking to enforce an arbitration clause or seeking bypass it and proceed in court, it pays to have the skill and knowledge of an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side.
A dispute over the construction of an apartment complex was a good example of how this analysis works. In late 2006, a Tennessee-based construction firm inked a deal to construct an apartment complex for seniors in Titusville. The agreement was spelled out across two documents – a primary contract and a supplemental conditions document.
Not happy with the construction work, the complex sued the construction firm for breach of contract. The construction firm asked the court to dismiss or stay the litigation action. According to the construction firm, the agreement called for alternative dispute resolution of claims like the one lodged by the complex. Specifically, the agreement required that the parties mediate and, if that failed, undergo arbitration of the claims.