Hugh R. Jones


Arbitration, New York State, Jurisprudence


Over a period of years, recourse has increasingly been had to arbitration as a method of dispute resolution in both the public and the private sectors. There is every indication that this trend will continue and expand in the future. In his opening address at the 1985 Annual Meeting of the American Law Institute last May, Chief Justice Warren Burger urged us to "take a fresh look at the entire structure we have created to resolve disputes" and deplored the fact that "as we now practice it, that system is too costly, too painful, too destructive and too inefficient."' At the recent meeting of the American Arbitration Association, the Chief Justice again urged recourse to arbitration. The Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program of our state's Unified Court System is expanding each year, with new centers being established across the state. Chapter 156 of the Laws of 1984 made the Program a permanent component of that System, and it was expanded by Chapter 91 of the Laws of 1985. In June, 1984, the New York State Bar Association released an interesting report, entitled "Alternatives to Court Resolution of Disputes," applauding and encouraging the activities of the Program. The American Bar Association Journal of February, 1985 contained an article describing and promoting "The Arbitration Alternative" and, in its August, 1985 issue reported the adoption by more than 125 chief executive officers and general counsel of major corporations of an "Alternative Dispute Resolution Corporate Policy Statement." This Statement, manifesting a policy to explore out-of-court methods to resolve disputes before pursuing litigation, was signed by American Express, Bristol-Meyers, General Motors, I.T.T., J.C. Penney, and Xerox, among others.' The policy is supported by significant elements in national corporate leadership. In light of these developments, and what the author perceives as the probability of a greatly expanded use of arbitration, it appears that an overall analysis of arbitration cases in the New York State Court of Appeals in the last few years may be useful. The author has been re-examining the court's decisions since January, 1973, when he became a member of the court, a period in which there have been well over two hundred appeals in arbitration cases. He has elected to organize this material in a perspective that he hopes will be of particular advantage to the practicing attorney.



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