Recently, in Snyder v. Old World Classics, LLC, 2023-Ohio-4019
, Ohio’s Ninth District Court held that any motion to compel arbitration under Ohio Revised Code 2711.03 requires an oral hearing. This is contrary to opposing decisions by the Fourth and Eighth District Courts of Ohio in Chrysler Fin. Servs. V. Henderson
, 4th Dist. Athens No. 11CA4, 2011-Ohio-6813 and Mattox v. Dillard’s, Inc.
, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90991, 2008-Ohio-6488. Despite accepting appeals in those matters, the Ohio Supreme Court never answered the question of whether R.C. 2711.03 requires a oral hearing where no request has been made, noting “this area of law may need clarification.” ALZ Hauling, LLC v. TruNorth Warranty Programs of N. America
In Snyder¸ the Court noted that the statute prescribes that “[t]he court shall hear the parties” and cited precedent from that District holding that “[w]hen the record indicates that the trial court did not conduct a hearing, this Court will reverse without addressing the merits of the trial court’s decision.” See Shillinburg v. Turtle Creek Asset, Ltd., 9th Dist. Summit No. 29113, 2019-Ohio-1156 at ¶ 5.
Clauses requiring mandatory and binding arbitration in lieu of litigation in a court system may be inserted in contracts and are common provisions in construction contracts. Arbitration is often considered to be an expedient, simplified, cost-effective form of dispute resolution, preferred over litigation. Parties sometimes ignore or are ignorant to the existence of an arbitration provision, or may be complying with statutory lien law requiring them to commence suit. In such instances, other parties may seek to enforce their contractual agreement to arbitration under the processes set forth in R.C. 2711.02 and 2711.03. Whether 2711.03 requires an oral hearing regardless of a request for one have implications on parties’ contractual dispute resolution clauses and strategies in addition to the process for enforcing such rights.