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NEW JERSEY BAR URGES END TO ARBITRATION NEWARK, N.J. — Calling mandatory arbitration a poor substitute for good lawyering and a “bureaucratic waste,” New Jersey’s state Bar Association is pushing to eliminate it. In a blistering report by its Ad Hoc Committee on Arbitration, the Bar urges adoption of a multi-option, alternative dispute resolution program similar to one used in some federal districts. The committee recommends using mediation instead of arbitration and making arbitration optional and only one of a variety of ADR resolutions available. The report, sent to New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah Poritz in early November but only made public last week, says the system has too many inexperienced arbitrators and built-in problems, such as chumminess among lawyers, unavoidable biases of arbitrators and conflicts that arise through some lawyers’ relationships with carriers. Although the perceived failure of arbitration has not led to more cases going to trial — only 6.3 percent of trial de novo requests go to a jury — there is a high rate of rejection of arbitration awards, more than 72 percent, the report says. It also characterizes the arbitration process as an often-abused settlement tool, taking a swipe at Allstate Insurance Co. in particular for its policy of never accepting an arbitration award. “This evaluation of the current system offers an opportunity for New Jersey to embrace national trends toward mediation, and other innovative dispute resolution reforms,” State Bar President Karol Corbin Walker said in a statement that accompanied release of the report. — The New Jersey Law Journal

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