TO ARBITRATE OR MEDIATE?
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published September 20, 2021
Prior to July 1st, 2021 if a condominium dispute
arose, the parties were forced to first arbitrate the matter
before the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The law has now changed and reads as follows:
(a) Before the institution of court litigation, a party to a
dispute, other than an election or recall dispute, shall
either petition the division for nonbinding arbitration
or initiate presuit mediation.
As you can see, now the plaintiff has a choice to start the
matter in arbitration or mediation. So which one do you choose?
If you decide to go to arbitration, your case will be assigned
to an arbitrator in Tallahassee. The arbitrator will read the
briefs, hold hearings and ultimately enter an order. Someone
will win and someone will lose. The loser will pay the winner’s
attorney’s fees. The loser can then file in court for a trial
de novo. In effect, it’s an appeal of the arbitrator’s order
and the case starts all over again. The winner of the trial de
novo gets their attorney’s fees and costs from the loser,
including the arbitration fees.
So….the risk in going to arbitration is that if you lose, you
may wind up not only paying your lawyer, but the other side’s
The alternative is to mediate the dispute. I have been
certified since 2007 as a Circuit Court mediator. I truly enjoy
mediating cases and helping the parties resolve their disputes.
At mediation, the parties appear with their attorneys. The
mediator explains that today is a good day to settle the case on
mutually agreeable terms, rather than leave your fate up to a
judge or jury. If an agreement is reached, it is enforceable in
a court of law. The mediator allows the parties to make opening
statements, then separates the parties and goes back and forth
trying to achieve a settlement.
There is very little risk in going to mediation. There is no
“winner” or “loser” at mediation, so neither party has to worry
about paying the other side’s attorney’s fees. The parties
split the cost of the mediator.
When I act as a mediator, I explain to the parties that neither
side will get everything they want today, and that if at the end
of the day both parties feel a little miserable, I probably
achieved a fair result.
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated
from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for three decades and is the owner of
Glazer and Sachs, P.A. a five attorney law firm with
offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Eric is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in
Condominium and Planned Development Law.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze
and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs at 11:00 a.m.
each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
Eric is the first attorney in the State of
Florida that designed a course that certifies condominium and
HOA residents as eligible to serve on a Board of Directors and
has now certified more than 20,000 Floridians all across the
state. He is certified as a Circuit Court Mediator by The
Florida Supreme Court and has mediated dozens of disputes
between associations and unit owners. Eric also devotes
significant time to advancing legislation in the best interest
of Florida community association members.