Court Erred In Finding Arbitration Provision To Be Discretionary Rather Than Mandatory

The Florida District Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The lower court concluded that a provision stating that a party “may initiate arbitration” did not entitle a disputant to insist that the matter be arbitrated, even though the other party commenced litigation. Citing precedent, the appellate court held: “Arbitration clauses are usually interpreted as mandatory, even if they use the permissive “may,” unless they require both parties to consent to arbitration or otherwise make clear that one party can opt for litigation over arbitration.”

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