Any Order That Compels or Denies Arbitration is Now Final and Immediately Appealable, Even if it Does Not Address All Issues and All Parties

GMAC v. Pittella, 205 N.J. 572 (2011).  In Wein v. Morris, 194 N.J. 364 (2008), the Supreme Court used its rulemaking power to amend Rule 2:2-3(a) to add orders compelling arbitration to the list of interlocutory orders that are deemed final for purposes of appeal.  Wein involved an order that compelled arbitration as to all issues and all parties in the case.  In contrast, the arbitration order in GMAC applied to fewer than all parties and issues.  The question for the Court was whether the principle of Wein should extend to those circumstances.  In a unanimous opinion by Judge Stern, the Court held that all orders granting or denying arbitration would now be considered final and immediately appealable.

New Jersey has adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-1 to  -32.  “Given the Uniform Act’s purpose to promote expeditious arbitration, and its express provision permitting appeals when arbitration is denied or stayed, we conclude that all orders denying and granting arbitration should be treated as final for purposes of appeal”  From a policy perspective, “[t]he policy behind Wein applies irrespective of whether other claims or parties remain in the trial court.”  The Court directed that appeals involving orders granting or denying arbitration be given a scheduling preference in the Appellate Division, just as interlocutory appeals receive. 

Judge Stern gave attorneys a crystal clear practice pointer.  “Because the order shall be deemed final, a timely appeal on the issue must be taken then or not at all.  A party cannot await the results of the arbitration and gamble on the results.”  His opinion concluded “with the following warning: as of today, litigants and lawyers in New Jersey are on notice that all orders compelling and denying arbitration shall be deemed final for purposes of appeal, regardless of whether such orders dispose of all issues and all parties, and the time to appeal therefrom starts from the date of the entry of that order.” 

This is a sound and practical result.  The Court has created a bright-line rule that is easy to for courts to administer and attorneys to follow.  Given the importance that our courts have ascribed to arbitration, there was no basis to distinguish between cases in which the arbitration order encompasses all issues and parties and those that do not.  Moreover, it would not have made sense to treat orders granting arbitration differently than those denying it.  Either type of order is worthy of prompt review, as the Court has now ruled.

No Responses to “Any Order That Compels or Denies Arbitration is Now Final and Immediately Appealable, Even if it Does Not Address All Issues and All Parties”

  1. […] Recently, the Court took this ruling still further.  Counsel need to be aware that orders relating to arbitration are now final and immediately appealable, or risk losing the chance to appeal those orders. […]

  2. […] pendency of that counterclaim ordinarily would have made the appeal interlocutory, but that under GMAC v. Pittella, 205 N.J. 572 (2011), the appeal was considered final because it involved whether arbitration or […]

  3. […] amendments to three different Rules are occasioned by the Supreme Court’s ruling in GMAC v. Pittella, 205 N.J. 575 (2011), in which the Court held that orders declining to compel arbitration are to be […]

  4. […] appellate practice issue that the panel left open.  Orders granting or denying arbitration are now immediately appealable as of right.  Appeals from final judgments normally allow parties to bring […]

  5. […] but which have been declared “final” for purposes of immediate appeal, such as orders granting or denying arbitration, orders granting or denying a motion to extend the time to file a notice of tort claim, and various […]

  6. […] Division, gruffly granted plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration.  After defendant appealed as of right, the Law Division amplified its reasons for that ruling.  The Appellate Division was unimpressed […]

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