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Vacature of Arbitration Award Denied

Vacature of an arbitration award by a court is rare and usually only happens if the party seeking vacature can prove a bias on the part of the arbitrator or a blatant disregard of the law.

Recently, in a matrimonial arbitration, the husband, as the defendant, sought to vacate the arbitration award.  After several emails were sent by the arbitrator to the parties via their counsel to schedule an arbitration hearing date for the continued hearing, which were not responded to by defendant’s counsel, the arbitrator scheduled a date for the continued hearing and notified the parties of that date, via email to the parties’ counsel.

After the arbitrator issued his award finding for the plaintiff, the defendant contended that the arbitration award should be vacated because the arbitrator failed to follow the statutory notice requirement for the arbitration hearing because the email notice he received from the arbitrator of the continued arbitration hearing did not comport with the statutory notice requirements.

The Court found that defendant’s contention that the arbitrator failed to follow the statutory notice requirement for the arbitration hearing was without merit.  The Court noted that while CPLR Section 7506(b), which sets forth the statutory requirements for the time and place of an arbitration, provides in relevant part that the arbitrator shall appoint a time and place for the hearing and notify the parties in writing personally or by registered or certified mail not less than eight days before the hearing, CPLR Section 7506(b) does not provide that the notice for subsequently scheduled dates for a continued hearing must adhere to those same requirements.  The Court denied the defendant’s motion to vacate the arbitration award as the defendant failed to establish any ground upon which the Court should vacate such award and that the defendant failed to meet the heavy burden required of a party seeking to vacate an arbitration award.

It is interesting to note that in her ruling, Justice Colleen Duffy pointed out that “it is policy in New York State to favor and encourage arbitration as a means of expediting resolution of disputes and conserving judicial resources” and that “except for certain narrow, statutorily authorized circumstances, judicial review of an arbitration award is proscribed.”
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