This page provides an overview of the online arbitration process in general and judge.me email arbitration system specifically. If this page does not answer all of your questions, please do not hesitate to contact support.
What is arbitration?
What is the role of judge.me in the arbitration?
How does the online arbitration process work?
What kind of disputes can be arbitrated?
Why use online arbitration over court litigation or physical arbitration?
What laws and practices is Judge.me based on?
Is Judge.me arbitration binding, and if so, how?
How is a judge.me decision enforced?
In which countries is judge.me binding?
Can an arbitration decision be overruled by the courts?
Do I need an arbitration clause in my contracts to use judge.me?
Do I need permission to use the judge.me arbitration clause?
Who should file the case and when?
Who are the judge.me arbitrators?
Can I select my own arbitrator?
Is the arbitration hearing private and confidential?
What happens if I settle my dispute outside of judge.me after we paid for arbitration?
Arbitration is a way for individuals and businesses to settle disputes outside of the court system. The arbitrator must be a neutral third party and the parties yield him the power to decide the dispute, that is, to "render an arbitral award". Arbitration is binding yet it avoids the cost and delays as common in court litigation.
Judge.me administers the arbitration service, in accordance with our arbitration agreement. This means that we review new case filings and appoint the most appropriate arbitrator. The arbitration hearing itself is opened, led and closed by our arbitrators, all of whom are independent contractors.
Like all arbitration proceedings, the judge.me arbitration process consists of 6 steps:
At some point before the arbitration begins, both parties should decide to resolve disputes using arbitration rather than court litigation. This can be decided before the dispute arises by adding an arbitration clause to the contract, or after the dispute arises (called a submission to arbitrate) by both signing the arbitration agreement as part of the case filing at judge.me.
Obviously, the parties only proceed to arbitration - by filing their case - in case a dispute arises.
Parties pay the $299 arbitration fee ($149.5 each) when they file the case. If the filer decides to pay the entire fee during case filing, the arbitrator will reallocate the arbitration fee in his award.
4. Legal representation
Either party may decide to hire an attorney for representation. However, given the lack of legal formalities in the judge.me ex aequo et bono arbitration, most parties present their evidence without a lawyer.
5. Arbitration hearing
The email arbitration hearing is opened by the arbitrator and generally consists of 5 steps: opening statements, evidence, arbitrator questions, closing statements and arbitral decision ("award").
6. Judicial review
If the losing party refuses to pay (which statistically happens in 4% of the arbitration cases), the prevailing party must go to court to have the award recognized and enforced. The losing party can also have the award vacated in very limited circumstances.
In general, every type of dispute can be arbitrated except for crimes, because for these matters there is a "public policy" concern which makes it impossible for all parties involved to agree to arbitration. The disputes that are arbitrable can vary widely, from personal disputes (e.g. neighbor and family conflicts) to business disputes (e.g. failure to deliver goods on time or in shape) and from physical transactions to digital disputes (e.g. request to remove feedback on a website).
We will soon launch arbitrator profiles, which will be categorized by a list of arbitrable disputes. If you have any questions regarding the arbitrability of your dispute, please feel free to contact support.
1. Better justice for everybody
Smaller claims can be handled cost effectively and specialized arbitrators can be located globally rather than locally. For example, is your local judge experienced in software development? We have arbitrators who are.
2. Ease of use
Everybody, even the layman without any knowledge of the law can defend himself, since in ex aequo et bono arbitration there are no loopholes to exploit and no significant benefits to be had from legal representation.
Email is asynchronous and location independent so the judge.me arbitration hearing has no delay for scheduling, travel and other administrative tasks.
4. Binding internationally
Whereas court litigation is only binding in its own jurisdiction, the judge.me arbitral awards are recognized and enforced internationally in 146 countries.
5. Relief from court
Small claims courts today are overwhelmed with case load so even your local judge will be pleased to hear you opted for arbitration instead.
1. Jurisdiction: Kompetenz kompetenz
Courts are only binding in their own jurisdiction. This means a small claims judge in Ohio can not handle a case between two parties in Hong Kong. In international binding arbitration, however, it is possible for an Ohio based arbitrator to arbitrate a dispute between two parties outside the jurisdiction where he lives. All the arbitrator (and the arbitration institution) has to do is to consider whether the dispute is arbitrable. The principle that arbitrators are competent to decide themselves whether they have jurisdiction (competence) is known in the arbitration world under its German name "Kompetenz Kompetenz".
2. Choice of law: Ex aequo et bono
For court litigation, which law to apply (called "choice of law") becomes an issue as soon as the dispute crosses jurisdictional borders. Even when the parties specified their choice of law in the contract, good lawyers find ways to challenge this which leads to choice of law becoming a trial on its own. To avoid this issue, smart arbitration service providers such as judge.me specify that rather than applying a certain local law, the arbitration will be resolved based on common law and equity principles. The concept of basing dispute resolution on "fairness and equity" is known under its latin name "ex aequo et bono".
Yes, judge.me arbitration is binding because both parties commit to being bound by the arbitration award at least once. That is, all our users sign our arbitration agreement during case filing (i.e. after dispute arises), but smart users also put our arbitration clause in the contracts they signed (i.e. before the dispute arises).
After the judge.me arbitrator has decided the case ("rendered his award"), both parties are bound to make each other whole again. Statistically, 96% of the arbitration awards are honored, meaning the losing party makes a payment or delivers goods or services to the prevailing party as ordered by the arbitrator within the set time limits (most commonly 30 days).
However, in the 4% of awards that are not honored, the prevailing party must seek to enforce the award by asking a court where the losing party has assets to turn the arbitration award into a court judgment, upon which the judge can then issue a fieri facias ("fi fa" in short), which is an order to the local sheriff to seize enough property of the losing party to make the prevailing party whole again, as well as to (typically) cover the court costs incurred by the entire process of enforcement. (This is why 96% of losing parties pay immediately: Not complying will most likely only incur more court expense for them and cause embarrassment from a forced property seizure.)
Either party may also ask a court to recognize the arbitration award to prevent the other party from filing a lawsuit for the same dispute in that jurisdiction. Please note that the court should drop the lawsuit once you as defendant show them the dispute has already been arbitrated. Recognition of an award is simply a quicker and less costly prevention strategy for when you think the opposing party is likely to file a lawsuit against all odds.
To go to court, you will need a Sworn Affidavit of Arbitration from us, so the judge has an official declaration of the arbitration award as well as the arbitration agreement. You can request such an Affidavit of Arbitration at the administrative fee of $35 by contacting support.
Judge.me is binding is the 146 countries countries that signed the 1958 Convention of New York. Almost every country involved in international trade is on the list. Countries not party to the convention (i.e. where judge.me is not binding) include many African countries, Taiwan and a few of the small tax paradises around the world.
Yes, which is why it is important to use a reputable arbitration service which knows what it is doing. Courts "annul" or "vacate" the arbitration award most often over public policy concerns, such as for crimes, and major shortcomings in the arbitrator's behavior, such as an undisclosed bias or ex-parte communication.
At judge.me, we only accept cases that we know from experience to be enforceable and will refund your money when we have to reject your dispute. Our email arbitration system is also set up in such a way that it is impossible for the parties to contact the arbitrator outside of the arbitration hearing, of which the entire transcript is open to both parties at all times.
So far, we have never had a court annul or vacate one of our arbitration awards.
No, but we highly recommend it to make sure you avoid expensive and time consuming court litigation.
In theory, the only requirement to use judge.me binding arbitration is that both parties agree to use judge.me as their dispute resolution provider at some point before the start of the arbitration hearing. This requirement can be fulfilled either with an arbitration clause (pre-dispute) or by signing the arbitration agreement as part of the case filing (post-dispute, called a submission to arbitrate). In practice, however, it is often difficult for parties in a dispute to agree on anything including on whether to use a dispute resolution provider such as judge.me. Therefore, most of our clients use our arbitration clause to bind all parties to judge.me arbitration before the need for arbitration even arises.
With a signed arbitration clause in place, the arbitration hearing can start and an arbitration award can be rendered even if the other party fails to respond to the case filing and hearing requests. If the other party fails to respond and no arbitration clause has been signed, judge.me can not provide the arbitration since we do not have authority from both parties. You are then forced to use court litigation.
Please note that the submission to arbitrate - that is, the signing of our arbitration agreement as part of the case filing - overrules any arbitration clause that has been in place. This means that if for example an arbitration clause from the American Arbitration Association has been signed, and both parties can agree to use judge.me instead, this can be done if both parties submit to judge.me arbitration as part of our case filing process. For parties with a judge.me arbitration clause already in place, our case filing merely confirms the arbitration agreement and does not change anything - other than, obviously, asking judge.me to start the arbitration hearing because a dispute has arisen.
No, you are free to use our arbitration clause without our prior consent. However, for complex cases, we reserve the right to refuse the case at our $299 pricing level and offer a tailored solution as an alternative, which will always be optional. Please feel free to contact support when in doubt as to whether your contract type is eligible for our lowest cost $299 pricing.
Unlike for court litigation, it does not matter who files the case in our judge.me system. This why the parties to our arbitration have the neutral names "Filer" and "Responder" rather than the court terms "Plaintiff" and "Defendant".
All of our arbitrators are certified by CIArb , the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators or have equivalent experience. Our arbitrator pool consists of experienced individuals in many relevant industries. One of the key differences with smalls claims court is that we understand the internet and software development well, so judge.me is able to arbitrate development and design disputes with a practical as well as legal understanding of the subject matter.
If you are CIArb qualified, you may apply to become an arbitrator at judge.me.
No, judge.me appoints the best arbitrator possible based on the case summary provided during the case filing. We appoint arbitrators for a living and feel we can do a better job in doing so than parties who (hopefully) only need arbitration a few times in their life.
The arbitration hearing is private, meaning that third parties can not come and follow the proceedings like they could do with court hearings, which are public in many places. The arbitration hearing is confidential in the sense that the arbitrator or judge.me will not disclose its content unless legally required to do so in a judicial review.
Please note that the parties itself are free to discuss the arbitration hearing and reveal the award. Parties can sign a confidentiality agreement outside judge.me if they want to prevent this from happening.
Our fees, once paid, can not be reimbursed except when we reject the dispute because the subject matter is not arbitrable. After all, judge.me can not take away authority from the arbitrator without good reason once we appointed him or her to resolve your case. If a settlement has been reached outside of judge.me, we advise both parties to inform the arbitrator during the arbitration hearing. The arbitrator can then use the details of the settlement to render a consent award, which would make your settlement legally enforceable in court systems around the world just like any other arbitration award would.