Complex New Jersey construction law cases can be extremely expensive to litigate in court because of the amount of documents involved, the number of witnesses, and the need for experts. Therefore, many construction contracts contain arbitration provisions. The view is that arbitration can save money in the litigation process, but still provide an enforceable dispute resolution process.
However, it would not be accurate to call construction arbitration “cheap” or “inexpensive.” Essentially, arbitration is a private litigation process with limited discovery and appeal rights. By limiting discovery, particularly depositions, a significant source of expense is eliminated, and by limiting appeal rights, arbitration can provide more finality. However, there is still discovery. Documents are generally exchanged before the hearing, so there is still expense, but costs are saved because arbitration rarely involves depositions. Likewise, while experts are not normally deposed, they are still required and must prepare pre-hearing reports about their expected testimony. All of this entails significant expense. In addition, while there are minimal filing fees and the services of courts are generally free, the use of an arbitration forum in construction law disputes entails significant fees, and in addition the parties have to pay the arbitrator for all his or her time.