Dispute Resolution Processes in Entertainment Contracts

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James Kosa wrote an interesting and thoughtful piece over at slaw last week: Shape-Shifting Dispute Processes: Adapting the Process to the Type of IT Dispute. In it, he discusses "alternative dispute resolution (mediation or arbitration) as a means for resolving disputes" in the context of information technology (IT) contract disputes. James raises a number of issues which entertainment practitioners would do well to consider in the context of the industries whose participants we are called on to advise. Dispute resolution clauses (or the absence thereof) in contracts can be, dangerously, viewed as "boiler plate" clauses, deserving no more attention than, say, a counterparts clause - but each contract, or at least each "type" of contract, and the relationship which is documented thereby, should be assessed for what type of dispute resolution mechanism is most appropriate.

It is not uncommon for entertainment contracts to contain arbitration clauses: particularly in the United States, the presence of multiple service providers who specialize in making available experienced arbitrators who also have an entertainment industry background make arbitration a seemingly attractive option. But as James identifies, some types of disputes may warrant different treatment...

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