In a recent Florida case, Leder v. Imburgia, a contractor was found to have waived its right to compel arbitration because neither owner nor contractor submitted their disputes to the Initial Decision Maker and to mediation as required by the contract prior to going to court. The court found that because neither side went this route, which was a condition precedent to arbitration under the contract, the contractor could not attempt to enforce the dispute resolution procedures for the first time after suit was filed. Both parties were held to have waived the right to arbitration.
The arbitration language in the Contract in the Leder case was slightly different than many standard arbitration provisions (such as the AIA forms). Situations like this highlight the importance of understanding each clause in your contracts.
This is another in a long line of examples of a Court holding that if a party wishes to enforce their contract, they must comply with the contract throughout the project, and can’t lean on the contract for the first time after a lawsuit is filed. If you have questions about enforcing your contracts while a project is ongoing so that you don’t lose your contract rights, reach out to a lawyer at Hudson Lambert Parrott Walker.