Sometimes disputes between parties can be solved through arbitration, a process that is often quicker and cheaper than going to court. Typically, during an arbitration proceeding, two parties present evidence and their arguments to an impartial individual, an arbitrator. During arbitration, parties can be represented by an attorney and examine witnesses. Based on the evidence, the arbitrator renders a decision on the matter. Juries are not used in arbitration. Under Maryland law, arbitration decisions in matters related to consumer protection are binding, except for limited appeals allowed by the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act.
In Maryland, when both the business and the consumer agree, consumer protection matters can be submitted for arbitration by the Consumer Protection Division. Consumer protection matters include the sale of goods and services, credit, and realty. In these instances, the arbitrator may award specific performance or the payment by the business to the consumer. Moreover, in some instances, the arbitrator can award consequential damages. However, claims for punitive damages cannot be arbitrated.
Anyone that conducts business in Maryland can agree to submit all future disputes or a particular class of disputes to arbitration, so long as the dispute is covered by consumer protection regulations and the consumer also agrees to participate in the arbitration. An arbitration agreement must in writing and signed. If one party is able to amend the arbitration agreement at any time and at their discretion, the arbitration contract might be unenforceable because it would mean that a party is not bound to arbitration.