Unlike mediation, arbitration is an adjudicative function and is intended to provide an expeditious and cost effective alternative to trials in court. The arbitrator is acting as both judge and fact finder. The law gives great latitude to the arbitrator, subject to the terms of the particular arbitration agreement, to both fact finding and the application of legal principles. Massachusetts law provides that as a default rule, the parties to an arbitration agreement have bargained for an honest decision following a proceeding in which both sides have had an opportunity to be heard, but that in the absence of agreement to the contrary, errors as to the facts found and even as to correct application of the law, are not grounds for upsetting an arbitral award. However, the integrity of the arbitration process demands as much care on the part of an arbitrator as would be expected of a court.
Mr. Johnson approaches service as an arbitrator with three primary purposes in mind: first, to provide the parties with a prompt and cost-effective means for the final resolution of their dispute, second, to find the relevant facts and apply the law to them with the care that a court in a bench trial would exercise, as if his award were going to be subject to judicial review on appeal pursuant to the usual standards of appellate review and third, to render an award that does substantial justice.