781.708.4445

wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

Divorce Mediation Blog

Important Arbitration Case Pending: May Have Particular Impact on Family Law

Monday, January 18, 2016

We read with interest about the pending case Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case, Katz Nannis & Solomon, PC v. Levine (no relation), in the October 12, 2015 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Holland & Knight’s Attorney Gordon P. Katz wrote “SJC to Consider Expanded Review of Arbitrators’ Awards”, about the case, a civil action between estranged shareholders of an accounting firm. The question on appeal arises from an arbitration agreement; and specifically whether or not parties can bind each other and the court to rights of review that are broader than those that are set forth in the Massachusetts version of Uniform Arbitration Act.

M.G.L., ch. 251, § 12 limits the right to vacate an arbitral award to the grounds of: corruption or fraud; evident arbitral partiality; exceeded authority; and arbitrator’s refusal to grant a continuance sought with reasonable cause; or failure to admit material evidence. The contract in Katz case added that a court could overturn an award if it were based on “material, gross and flagrant error”, a higher threshold for appeal than provided in civil litigation, but broader, certainly, than §12. The SJC should rule on the matter sometime next year

One of the more frequently cited impediments to the growth of divorce arbitration, despite its manifest opportunities (efficiency, expediency, convenience, privacy, cost and control of selection of decision-maker), is that lawyers are deterred by the general loss of appellate rights. While everyone is well aware that appeals are rare, lengthy, obscenely costly, often inconclusive and always unpredictable, they are slow to relinquish the fail-safe for the true outlier result that they may encounter. We certainly understand the defensive impulse: divorce litigation clients are among the more litigious with their lawyers, post-divorce.

We have long believed that the law should allow people to agree to that level of review that they, as competent contracting parties, feel is appropriate. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Model Family Law Arbitration Act, includes the right of parties to elect appeal of errors of law to the trial court judge, in the first instance, then to the appellate level. The local AAML has advanced a Massachusetts version of that model act here, without success so far. It, too, contains that right to vary review and appeal provisions.

We hope that the SJC recognizes this important contractual right; and that if they do, divorce lawyers will take another look at matrimonial arbitration.

We’re always happy to talk.



Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:



Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles


recent posts


tags

mediator Baseball Players fraud Self-adjusting alimony orders alimony reform legislation divorce lawyers divorce mediator divorced family law arbitrator Family Law Arbitration mediations divorce and family law Alimony Reform Act divorce agreement Massachusetts lawyers Boston Child Support Guidelines Obamacare SJC self-adjusting alimony support orders divorce mediators family and probate law disputes private dispute resolution Major League Baseball Arbitration disputes divorce arbitration mediation Same Sex Marriage Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth Matrimonial Arbitration annulment divorce process health insurance medical benefits Massachusetts alimony and child support mediators MLB labor agreement Uniform Arbitration Act The Seven Sins of Alimony Levine Dispute Resolutions alimony law General term alimony med/arb Divorce lawyer-attended mediation health coverage Divorce Agreements how baseball arbitration works divorce judgment family law arbitrators IRC §2704 family law mediation Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly pre-ARA alimony Massachusetts divorce mediators special master alimony divorce and family law mediators child support Defense of Marriage Act alimony statute divorce mediation Baseball dispute resolution med-arb Cohabitation alimony orders Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act Massachusetts divorce lawyers Massachusetts family mediation lawyers separation litigation LDRC divorce litigation Levine Dispute Resolution Center Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC high-risk methodology family support Baseball Arbitration divorce arbitrator Massachusetts alimony traditional negotiations rehabilitative alimony DOMA conciliation arbitrators arbitration COLA family law facilitated negotiations Chouteau Levine divorce arbitrators arbitrator Levine Dispute Resolution lawyer divorce mediations resolve disputes