SUE THE S.O.B. America's Mantra!

Sue the SOB has become the mantra of America. Whatever we have a dispute the first thing we do is pick up the phone and call our lawyers and demand that they sue the bastard. While such a reaction is good for attorneys it is often not in the best interests either party to the dispute. Legal fees and litigation costs by their very nature are astronomical. There are few people who can afford the costs of undertaking a lawsuit today. The cost of the average lawsuit range from the low tens of thousands and can easily reach the $50,000 range.

There are certain situations in which contingency fee arrangements are employed where the attorneys receive a percentage of the recovery. In those circumstances the parties are still expected to pay for expenses. However even expenses, when discovery becomes intense and depositions are taken, alone can still rise into the five figures. In most instances attorneys will not consider taking contingency fee in cases where there is a question of liability, if there is the possibility that the defendant can not pay the judgment or if the amounts involved are not significant. If the damages are not large enough even taking 40% of the award as a fee will not compensate the attorney for her time.

With attorney fees out of reach and contingency fees only available in limited circumstances what is an aggrieved party to do? The answer lies in Alternative Dispute Resolution also commonly referred to as ADR. Most judicial systems today had some form of ADR. It can be simple non-binding mediation before a mediator or a judge. There can be diversion to binding or non-binding arbitration. The art world presents a setting that is particularly well suited for alternative dispute resolution. Of the hundreds of cases that I review every year probably 70 percent involve circumstances which can be deemed misunderstands or stem from real problems. Only thirty per cent involve cases of bad faith. The cases that stem from mistakes, misunderstanding or legitimate problems often need a Salomon like approach to resolution. After parties spend several years and tens of thousands of dollars in litigation only to find that the judge in the end after patiently hearing all the evidence simply decides to do what he or she wants and thinks is right. Why not short circuit the process, remove the thousands of hours of discovery, the complex trials and have the matter presented to an arbitrator.

In arbitration you have in essence an informal trial. The arbiters sit as the judge. There are no juries. Discovery is also limited. Discovery is the process in all trials in which each side learns about the strength and weakness of the other side's case. You can submit written questions called interrogatories or take statements of witnesses and parties under oath and subject to cross-examination. These are known as depositions. You have the ability to learn about the other side's expert witnesses well. In arbitration you have all of these rights but they are strictly limited in terms of scope and duration. You are limited in the number of witnesses you can call. The number of interrogatories or depositions you can demand is also restricted. If a case is complex an arbiter can extend the scope of discovery, but it will always be much more restricted the in litigation and as a result much, much cheaper. The time it takes from the filing of an arbitration demand to its conclusion can usually be measured in weeks or a few months. This is in contrast to civil law suits where due to the court backlogs, can extend over years. This is not to mislead one into think that arbitrations are inexpensive. You still must hire a lawyer and prepare your case. But because of the limited nature of discovery and the speed in which the matter is resolved all add up to significant savings. In arbitration you can expect to pay less then half of what you would pay in a full fledged civil law suit. Unlike in a civil case where the government pays the judges salary in arbitration the parties generally split the costs of the judge and the other costs of the arbitration. Arbiters charge anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a day. However It usually entails one day of preparation, the actual time the trail is going on and a day to review the documents and render a decision. Even though you are paying for the judge it still comes out to be much cheaper than an actual trail.

How do you get the to arbitration? If you think it is worthwhile you can insert mandatory arbitration clause in all your contracts. If that is done then arbitration will be the way you resolve your disputes. If you have a mandatory arbitration clause in your contract an the other side tries to file a law suit their case should be summarily dismissed. if you do not have an arbitration clause in your contract then it must be by agreement of the parties. This is not nearly as difficult

as one might think. As it is often in the interest of both side to have the matter resolved quickly and less expensively. There are time of course when one party has a deep pocket and believes it can get its way by bleeding the other party dry. They will not agree to an arbitration

If your contract does not have an arbitration clause and you wish to arbitrate there are a number of roots which you can go. The most common form of arbitration, historically, has been through the American Arbitration Association. They have offices in most major cities with panels of well-trained arbiters . They are well-trained in commercial disputes, unfortunately it has been my experience that they are not particularly well-trained in the area of the arts. They are generally bright men and women who get up to speed, but if you are looking for an arbiter who truly knows the field you can contact one of numerous Volunteer Lawyer Organization that can be found in a number of cities. Many of them have established arbitration panels of attorneys who are somewhat __________ in the arts and agree to serve on arbitration panels. Some of these groups also provide training for there arbiters. The third way is to appoint a private judge. There are a number of services like the America Arbitration Association, but have greater flexibility in the appointment of the judges. You can also,______________________________ identify an individual maybe an attorney (they usually are) who is knowledgeable in the field and agree that that attorney or individual will be your arbiter. You usually agree to appoint your own private judge. That would be someone who is knowledgeable in the field, knows the nuances of the art world in the*********************************************** an attorney when you are 20 bucks only half reader Billy and at the out to also identified an individual and theories to the disputes the hardest galleries or her son reason examples of or retreat to the use include recent still sought to India are 80 Shiva sculpture even collect our case is currently sculpture by the 8-K your loan. He or at CM. And leads and other monochrome involved are that 0. pieces of the unit at whole or whole question by the 80 you are. Turn to selling you will often were sold were youth student also resell the cat dealer he or other work in air collect had the collectors work rocks is gone collect university to retrieve the meeting since you and see the vice laws arguing corner in our litigation is a hall of the Indians instances don't have like a party that the order or treated case you simply in alternative fees or parties concerned at the case decided on the 0. with knowledgeable field your court advocates are right drug out over any knowledge by the drug field your suppose like the good is at his first only case you are related matters at the better to an decrease resolved by one or more order or knowledgeable. There's no reason why not have two or three or case if the size and speed warranted yet expands such circumstance is often flying each side .1 order to orders appointee in the nerve. This method doors or geology was loved pay your orders approximately thousand dollars 80 days is that paddle in being the dollars our youth expands.

Next time somebody exhibit you reduce a contract and other waiting accident matter any legal matter for your gloves papers think of arbitration.