On April 2, 2015, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law one of the most highly specialized arbitration statutes ever passed: the Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act (the “DRAA”). The DRAA makes the process of starting an arbitration quick and inexpensive, accelerates the arbitration itself to ensure a swift resolution, does away with confirmation proceedings altogether, and provides for either contractual appeals or challenges directly to the Delaware Supreme Court.
The DRAA is not intended to preempt more “traditional” arbitration proceedings. Instead, it is a response to the expressed need for a modern and useful arbitration statute, specially designed for disputes where the parties most need no-nonsense and swift resolution, such as in the case of ongoing business relationships that would suffer from drawn-out litigation. For those willing to forgo the protections of the litigation process—such as extensive rights to discovery and full-blown appellate review—the DRAA provides for expert dispute resolution within as few as 120 days.
Those who proceed under the DRAA should expect prompt and efficient resolution of their disputes, with only minimal review of the arbitrator’s decisions. Their arbitrator, whether selected by the parties or appointed by Delaware’s Court of Chancery, will have broad powers to rule on the scope of the arbitration itself as well as on his or her own authority. The arbitrator will have the authority to grant a full array of injunctive and other remedies and, unless the parties contract for a broader appeal, will be subject to only the most limited standard of review in any challenge.
Developed through extensive consultation with leading U.S. and foreign arbitration specialists, the DRAA is the work of an interdisciplinary team of arbitration practitioners led by Delaware’s Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., Delaware’s Chancellor Andre G. Bouchard and Delaware’s Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. Richards, Layton & Finger directors played key roles in developing the DRAA: Two of our partners were intimately involved in the drafting of the statute, and a third played a principal role in drafting the proposed model rules.
Bringing decades of experience in Delaware and nuanced understanding of the DRAA, our attorneys are extraordinarily qualified to direct sophisticated parties toward a swift resolution of their disputes. We intend for this site to serve as a resource for clients and friends of the firm seeking information and insight on this innovative new statute.