Frequently Asked Questions - Arbitration

What is arbitration and how does it differ from mediation?

Effective 1992, Section 718.1255, Florida Statutes, required arbitration of certain condominium disputes as an alternative to court litigation and also authorized mediation of such disputes. Arbitration is an alternative to a court proceeding where a neutral third person, called an arbitrator, considers the facts and arguments presented by the parties and renders a decision. An arbitration proceeding may involve a hearing if there are disputed issues. If a hearing is held, each party is given an opportunity to present evidence through witnesses and exhibits. If there are no disputed issues, the arbitrator will generally decide the case based on the assertions in the petition for arbitration, the answer, and the applicable law. Mediation, on the other hand, means a process whereby a neutral third person, called a mediator, acts to encourage and facilitate the voluntary settlement of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, the decision-making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem-solving and exploring settlement alternatives.

What is the cost of arbitration?

For condominium and cooperative disputes, a petition must be accompanied by a $50.00 filing fee.  You should also be aware that if you lose in arbitration you may have to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Where do I file an arbitration petition, answer or other pleadings?

The arbitration program’s jurisdiction is limited.  Therefore, any party who is in doubt as to whether a controversy falls within the jurisdiction of the arbitration program may file a request for expedited determination of jurisdiction by filing a completed DBPR form ARB96-004, REQUEST FOR EXPEDITED DETERMINATION OF JURISDICTION along with a completed  Mandatory Non-Binding Petition – DBPR Form ARB 6000-001  The $50.00 filing fee must accompany the request.

Where do I find Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration forms?

All arbitration forms may be found at the Educational Materials Page for condominium arbitrations. (link to Education Materials)  The arbitration forms may also be obtained by writing: Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, Arbitration Section, 2601 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1030.

What if I am not sure if the disagreement I have falls within the jurisdiction of the arbitration program?

Petitions, answers and other pleadings must be filed with the arbitration section at the following address: Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, Arbitration Section, Capital Commerce Center, 2601 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1030. Filings may also be made by facsimile at 850.487.0870.  However, it should be noted that any facsimile received after 5:00 p.m. local time will be considered to have been received the next business day.  It should also be noted, that a copy of any document filed with the arbitrator must be provided to the other party other party’s representative (if the party has an attorney or other representative) and the document must state that a copy has been provided to the other party or party’s representative.  If a case number has been assigned to the case, any document filed should include the case number.

How do I communicate with the arbitrator?

A party may communicate in writing with the arbitrator.  If a party wishes to speak to an arbitrator, the party may request in writing that a case management conference be held at which all parties are present.  If the arbitrator finds that a case management conference is merited, an order will be issued directing the parties to attend the conference.  However, no party or person interested in the arbitration proceeding or party representative may communicate with the arbitrator or member of the Department verbally or in writing in the absence of all other parties. Such a communication is called an ex parte communication.   Additionally, every document filed must contain a certificate of service, stating that a copy has been provided to the opposing parties and the date and method by which it was provided.   The purpose of this rule is to ensure that there are no contacts with the arbitrator without notice to the other party or the attorney for the other party.  The rule also ensures that each party has a complete record of all documents filed in the case.  Any communications or documents, by parties or nonparties, that do not comply with these requirements are subject to being stricken and not considered by the arbitrator.  Parties shall not attempt to engage in ex parte communication with the arbitrator by directly contacting the arbitrator or indirectly by contacting other employees of the Department in person, by telephone, facsimile, or e-mail.   The arbitrator functions as an impartial judge and, therefore, the arbitrator and arbitration staff are prohibited from providing the parties legal advice or other guidance.  If a party does not understand the arbitration process, the party should consult an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.

I am not a party to the arbitration proceeding, but wish to file a communication with the arbitrator?

Only the parties or their representatives may file pleadings, motions or other communications with the arbitrator.  Anything filed by a non-party will be stricken and not considered by the arbitrator.

Do I need an attorney in order to participate in arbitration?

No. A party may be represented by an attorney, may represent him or herself, or may be represented by a qualified representative. If a party wants to be represented by a qualified representative, he or she must file with the arbitrator a completed DBPR form ARB96-002, QUALIFIED REPRESENTATIVE APPLICATION. Based on the information provided on the completed form, and based on the response to any inquiries made by the arbitrator concerning the applicant’s familiarity and understanding of the statute and rules applicable to the proceeding, the arbitrator will determine whether the prospective representative is authorized and qualified to appear in the arbitration proceeding and capable of representing the rights and interests of the party.

Where may I find information regarding recall of the member(s) of the board of directors?

Recall Procedures from A to Z: A Beginner’s Guide  provides basic information regarding recalls.  A copy of the guide may be obtained by writing: Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, Arbitration Section, 2601 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1030.

Where may I find more detailed information regarding the arbitration program?

More in depth information regarding the arbitration program may be found at  Arbitration News & Information web page.

I have questions regarding a homeowner’s association arbitration?

Information regarding the homeowner’s association arbitration program may be found at Homeowners’ Associations Arbitration Webpage.

DISCLAIMER
INFORMATION ON THE ARBITRATION SECTION’S WEB PAGES IS BEING PROVIDED AS A GENERAL REFERENCE RESOURCE AND IS NOT INTENDED TO SERVE AS LEGAL ADVICE. DEPARTMENT STAFF ARE NOT PERMITTED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE, ADVISE PERSONS AS TO WHETHER THEY SHOULD PURSUE LEGAL ACTION, OR INTERPRET THE RESOURCES PROVIDED ON THE ARBITRATION SECTION’S WEBPAGE. IF AFTER REVIEWING THE RESOURCES ON THE ARBITRATION SECTION’S WEB PAGES, YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS OR A LEGAL ISSUE, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT YOU CONSULT AN ATTORNEY. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW OR WHERE TO FIND AN ATTORNEY, YOU MAY WISH TO CONSULT THE FLORIDA BAR’S ATTORNEY REFERRAL SERVICE web page (Link to http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBConsum.nsf/48E76203493B82AD852567090070C9B9/
EC2322E512B83D1E85256B2F006CC812?OpenDocument ) or by calling 1-800-342-8011.

Need Help?

All requests for publications, documents, forms, applications for licenses, permits and other similar certifications can be obtained by contacting the Customer Contact Center.

CJ Aulet, Director
Division of Florida Condominiums,
Timeshares, and Mobile Homes

2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Telephone: 850.488.1122
Facsimile: 850.921.5446