The American Arbitration Association recently launched a suite of “à la carte” services allowing parties to select only the services they need. The benefit to litigants is that they will not have to incur the costs of a full-blown arbitration, but can still use the resources of the AAA as needed.

Arbitration is an effective alternative method of resolving disputes outside of court. Sophisticated businesses often insert mandatory arbitration clauses into their contracts for several reasons, including: (1) a more expeditious resolution; (2) reduced expense; (3) confidentiality; (4) limited opportunities for appeals; and (5) ability to select arbitrators that are experienced in the type of dispute. Previously, however, arbitration was an all-or-nothing choice: the American Arbitration Association (AAA) required parties to include an arbitration clause in an agreement naming the AAA as the organization that will administer arbitration between the parties in order to gain access to the AAA’s resources.

Recently, the AAA began offering an option to litigants to use the AAA’s vast array of resources and services only for portions of their dispute-resolution process, as opposed to engaging in a fully administered arbitration. The new service is known as AAA’s À La Carte Services. It does not require that the parties engage in, and incur the expense of, having their dispute administered by the AAA from commencement to decision, but instead permits the parties to use various services as stand-alone procedures.

Now that the parties may pick and choose the AAA-administered processes for their specific needs, they have an option to take advantage of programs such as Arbitrator Select, where parties can obtain a list of arbitrators best suited for their dispute from the AAA’s vast database. The parties can also take advantage of CaseXplorer, an online tool that enables parties to receive an expert evaluation on the strengths and weaknesses of their arbitration cases from a panel of AAA arbitrators not associated with their case. In addition, Arbitrator Challenge Review Procedures for Non-Administered Arbitrations allows the parties to non-administered arbitrations to have their objections or challenges decided by the AAA’s Administrative Review Council for determination.

A full listing of AAA’s À La Carte Services is available at www.adr.org/alacarte.

The benefit of this development is significant as parties can now take advantage of the arbitration procedures without having to incur the significant costs of a fully administered AAA arbitration, while still utilizing the AAA’s services and resources where they are most needed.