On May 29, 2019, Steve Riden hosted a discussion with The Honorable William G. Young, Judge, U. S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, at the Boston Bar Association on the topic of arbitration. 

The presentation was titled “Reconsidering Arbitration: A Conversation with Judge Young.”

The focus of the presentation was a December 2018 decision by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young concerning the use of arbitration clauses in commercial transactions. The decision was entered in the case titled CellInfo, LLC v. American Tower Corporation, 18-cv-11250, United States District Court, District of Massachsuetts.

The presentation featured discussion about the line between myth and reality concerning the value of arbitration.

In the CellInfo decision, Judge Young conducted a lengthy analysis of private arbitration, titled “Whatever Were They Thinking? Myths and Realities Concerning Courts and Arbitration.”

The court introduced its analysis of arbitration as follows: “How could an otherwise sophisticated agreement have made such a hash out of the parties’ intentions concerning the interplay of arbitration and court processes? It appears that in this ‘big law’ era, the drafters operated under the myth that arbitration is cheaper, faster, and more confidential than litigation (only one of these is true) without talking to trial lawyers who understand the reality that while people may not want trials, what they do want is a firm and reasonably prompt trial date before an impartial fact-finder as the best chance for a fairly negotiated settlement.” Judge Young’s analysis proceeded with in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of arbitration, and comparisons to court proceedings.

In an article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about the decision, Steve Riden is quoted as follows:

Boston commercial litigator Stephen D. Riden says Young made some very good points in CellInfo, points that he himself has raised with his corporate clients.

“In dealing with companies, there’s a perception that arbitration is always going to be faster, cheaper and more confidential than a federal court proceeding,” Riden says. “That’s not always right.”

Steve Riden is the Co-Chair of the Boston Bar Association’s Business and Commercial Litigation Section.

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