Arbitration Fact Sheet
This sheet will address many questions you may have about the mandatory non-binding arbitration proceeding in which you are a party. Other questions may be addressed via our Website, which has the arbitration rules of procedure, frequently asked questions and answers, and other resources.
Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third person (the arbitrator) listens to evidence presented by the parties in the dispute and issues a written opinion (final order) that decides the issues of fact and issues of law that are disputed between the parties. There is usually a winning and a losing party. Our arbitration program is governed by section 718.1255, Florida Statutes, which is located in the Condominium Act. It is not governed by Chapter 44 of the Florida Statutes.
What do I do after I receive the arbitrator's "Order Requiring Answer"?
Petitioner: If you filed the petition for arbitration, when the arbitrator mails an order requiring answer directed to the other party, you as petitioner should do nothing and wait for the order to be served by certified mail on the respondent. This may take 20-30 days. If the arbitrator wants you to respond to the answer, the arbitrator will mail to you an order permitting or requiring you to respond to the answer.Respondent: After you receive the order requiring answer, you should decide whether to hire an attorney to assist you in the case. Whether you hire an attorney or not, you are required to file your answer or motion to dismiss within 20 days after you receive the order requiring answer. The answer must admit or deny each fact contained in the petition, and must list all defenses that you have, along with the facts that you rely on for each defense.
The arbitrator's final order is binding
if you do not appeal the final order by filing an appeal in court within
30 days of when the final order is signed and mailed to the parties. Under
Florida Statutes, if you appeal a final order but do not fare better than
you did under the final order, you must pay the court costs and attorney's
Typically the parties are a condominium
or cooperative association and unit owner/s.
Can I call the arbitrator on the telephone or write to the arbitrator?
Under the rules of procedure, you are prohibited from telephoning the arbitrator unless the other party is on the telephone with you. There can be no discussion concerning the issues presented in a case unless all parties share in the discussion.
In general, after the petition and the answer are filed with the arbitrator, you should write to the arbitrator only in response to orders or letters written by the arbitrator that require you to do something or file something. In the case of written communications such as letters that you desire to write to the arbitrator, you are allowed to write to the arbitrator, but you must provide a copy of your letter to the other party at the same time. All your letters must have the case number on the face of the letter, and must indicate that you have provided the other party with a copy by a particular means, for example by U.S. Mail or fax.
if I have an emergency and must
contact the arbitrator immediately?
If you have an emergency that requires some immediate action in your case, you may fax a letter or request to the arbitrator. You must fax the letter to the other party if you know the correct fax number. The fax number for the arbitration section is (850) 487-0870. If you telephone the arbitration office at (850) 414-6867 with an emergency, the assistant who answers the telephone will request that you write down your problem and fax it to the arbitration office.
Can the arbitrator provide me help in arguing my case?
The arbitrator assigned to your case is not your lawyer or advocate and cannot give you legal advice or advocate in favor of your interests. The arbitrator must remain neutral and unbiased and cannot offer you advice or represent your interests.
Some of the arbitration cases are referred to mediation. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person listens to the parties and seeks to achieve a voluntary settlement of the issues existing between the parties. If a case is settled through mediation, the settlement agreement is binding on the parties and may be enforced in court.
How will I know if the arbitrator expects me to do something in the case?
If you are required to
do something, for example, file a paper or a response in the case, the
arbitrator will issue a specific order that tells you to perform the
Will I have to pay attorney's fees if I lose the case?
If you lose the case, you will be
required to pay the other party's costs and attorney's fees. If you lose,
you will also have to pay your own costs and attorney's fees if you hired
an attorney. Typical awards of costs and attorney's fees range from $2,100
to $5,000, but these figures could be much higher for more complicated
cases that require more attorney time.
Under the statute, the party who files
the petition for arbitration is required to pay a $50 filing fee. The
services of the arbitrator are paid by a portion of the $4 per unit fee
paid each year by all condominium association members to this agency.
There is no separate arbitrator fee.
What can I
do if there is nothing happening in my case?
The Division arbitrators do everything in their power to resolve each dispute as quickly as possible. Sometimes a period of inactivity may indicate that the arbitrator is waiting for the other party to do something (such as file an answer). Sometimes a case may be idle momentarily if it takes extra time for the arbitrator to review long documents and decide how to proceed with the case. If your case has been idle for an extended period of time, you could send a letter to the arbitrator (and a copy to the other party) asking for a status report on the case.