Disputes Will Not Be Subject to Arbitration Provision If There Is No “Significant Relationship”

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For plaintiff’s claims to be subject to the arbitration provision in the purchase contract, they must not only arise from the purchase contract, but also have a significant relationship to the purchase contract.

November 29, 2021
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

As you know from prior articles, arbitration is a creature of contract. This means if you want your disputes to be resolved by binding arbitration, as opposed to litigation, you want to make sure there is an arbitration provision in your contract. If there are certain types of disputes you do not want subject to arbitration, you want to specify those types of disputes/claims in your arbitration provision. If you are not sure, make sure to discuss the pros and cons of arbitration with your counsel when drafting and negotiating the contract. However, even with a broad arbitration provision, there are times where a dispute may still fall out of the scope of the arbitration provision, i.e., the dispute is not arbitrable. If this occurs, such dispute will be resolved by litigation. Parties that have buyer’s remove and do not want to arbitrate their dispute may try to make this argument that the dispute is not subject to the scope of the arbitration provision. There are times this argument carries weight because the dispute has no significant relationship to the agreement with the arbitration provision, as shown below.

In Deweees v. Johnson, 46 Fla. L. Weekly D2356b (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), a plaintiff purchased a home in a private residential community. The purchase contract with the developer contained a broad arbitration provision that materially provided that, “all post-closing claims, disputes, and controversies…between purchaser and seller will be resolved by binding arbitration except those arising under section G.5 and G.6 above.” Dewees, supra. Sections G.5 and G.6 provided that the purchaser will not interfere in the sales process with other purchasers and will not interfere with workmen during the construction process. There was also a workmanship and structural defect warranty for the dwelling that also contained an arbitration provision.

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com


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