Mediator and Arbitrator Elena Paraskevas-Thadani (She/Her) provides information on the United States District Court Eastern District of New York free arbitration program

If you have a civil case for $150K or less in the EDNY, the court’s arbitration program may offer a speedy and affordable resolution. Pursuant to the program, an Arbitrator is jointly selected by counsel for both parties from the EDNY Arbitration Panel. The arbitration takes place within six months of the filing of the answer. The program provides for nonbinding confidential arbitration, and the parties retain their rights for a trial de novo, although there is nothing which would prohibit the parties from agreeing to binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. While arbitrators are entitled to a modest fee of $250 per matter, this is payable by the Court, not the parties, and so the parties are essentially obtaining a free arbitration. The program offers an accessible alternative for smaller cases and for clients who cannot litigate in the courts because of costs, limited resources, or the time it would take to do so. In my view as an arbitrator, the EDNY court-annexed arbitration program is one of the best-kept secrets for litigators and their clients. If you have an EDNY case, it may be a good practice to raise the prospect of the Court’s arbitration program with your opposing colleague and presiding judge.