In a recent article in the Daily Business Review, we discuss the Florida Supreme Court decision that puts to rest the question of whether Florida’s Statute of Limitations applies to arbitrations. Reversing previous opinions of the Second District Court of Appeal and the Circuit Court, Raymond James Financial Services v. Phillips impacts parties to Florida arbitration agreements and the Florida arbitration community at large.
In a 2005 arbitration brought by several individual account holders against investment firm Raymond James, the firm moved to dismiss the matter on timeliness grounds. But the Circuit Court found that Florida’s Statute of Limitations (Chapter 95 of the Florida Statutes) did not apply to arbitrations. On appeal, the Second DCA agreed, reasoning that the definition of arbitration did not fit within the definition of a “civil action or proceeding,” to which Chapter 95 applies.
Left unchallenged, this decision would have made businesses and individuals susceptible to arbitration claims well past their expiration dates, reviving countless claims that would have otherwise been barred by operation of law. Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the decision, holding that an arbitration does indeed fall within the definition of a civil action or proceeding. This important ruling promotes stability in the practice of arbitration in Florida; without it, parties might have turned away from arbitration, perceiving it to be risky and unreliable. More locally, it could ultimately have called into question the sensibility of Miami’s development as a center for international arbitration, particularly for disputes emanating in Latin America.
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