Decision Quality Review: Insights for Arbitrators Q1 2022

It has been a year since AF introduced the quality assessment process, which is intended to measure the overall quality produced by the membership. As part of this partnership, we are sharing updated feedback to help improve quality.  

Our first quarter 2022 Decision Quality Review showed continued improvement of arbitrator performance over the last two quarters. Arbitrators showed increased strength in the following areas: properly addressing jurisdictional exclusions, entering award data correctly, and offering professionally written decisions. 
The review also revealed areas of opportunity for arbitrators.

Consider Comparative Negligence in Liability Decisions if Applicable

As with previous reviews, this review found “word versus word” decisions and decisions that supported comparative negligence, which may not have taken all evidence into consideration. This includes situations in which the adverse party simply stated the recovering party did not meet its burden to prove damages. As the arbitrator, you must look at all evidence provided and determine if the preponderance of evidence supported one party’s loss theory over another, and/or if comparative negligence applies.  
Address All of the Specific Damage Arguments Raised  

The review revealed many damage decisions offered a general response to the overall dispute whether awarding or reducing damages. Remember that specific comments about the damages issues will make your decision rationale clear to all parties. 

Entering “The evidence supports the rental that is being sought,” does not adequately address the dispute.  Instead, cite the evidence that led you to determine the rental was supported and include specific details. For example, “The labor hours listed on the estimate support the number of rental days allowed. The daily rate allowed was supported by the policy declarations page, and the estimate showed the make and model of the loss vehicle, which was comparable to the type of vehicle rented.” 

Additionally, ensure you address the evidence that was submitted by all parties to support your damage decision. Why is this so important? The parties in arbitration do not have the ability to view evidence submitted by other parties; they can only see a list of submitted evidence. Your comments provide a window into submitted evidence that is not viewable by all parties, which helps all parties better understand the decision.
Enter Descriptive Evidence Comments 

The review of evidence commentary revealed opportunities for continued growth. AF’s quality standard is for the arbitrator to offer substantive comments about evidence that was embedded into the parties’ liability arguments. For example, if a party embeds the police report into its liability argument, entering “Reviewed Police Report” or “Police Report” are not sufficient evidence comments. The quality standard requires comments that illustrate what the evidence contained and/or how it factored into the decision. For example, “The officer’s narrative noted Beta Insurance Company’s insured ran the red light and struck Alpha Insured’s vehicle.” 

AF is dedicated to ensuring you, our members, are at the center of everything we do. We share this information to increase awareness of performance gaps to help improve the overall quality of future decisions. AF will continue to share our findings and insights after each review. We truly appreciate the efforts of our member arbitrators to deliver on the promise of a quality decision.