Substantive Changes Effective July 1, 2019
By: Veronica L. Morrison, Esq.
I thought the Arbitrator’s ruling was final: Why are we re-arbitrating our construction dispute?
Beware Owners and Contractors: If you’re not careful, you could end up “re-arbitrating” your construction dispute after you thought it was resolved the first time. As of July 1, 2019, the PA Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (“RUAA”) became effective, marking the first substantive change to the Act since 1982. The RUAA includes a number of important revisions. An especially important change is the elimination of the “default” provision formerly requiring that all arbitration agreements be construed as common law arbitration agreements, unless they specifically stated that disputes are subject to statutory arbitration under the Act. This is significant because a common law arbitration award is treated with more finality, and therefore is more difficult to modify or vacate than a statutory arbitration award, which may be modified or vacated by a court for a number of reasons. There are also expanded discovery requirements under RUAA. As such, with RUAA eliminating the default to common law arbitration, it is now imperative that drafters of construction agreements intending to preserve the finality and relative ease of common law arbitration make specific reference to the sections of the Act pertaining to common law arbitration. Otherwise, unsuspecting owners and contractors may end up re-arbitrating their disputes.