Admiralty | Maritime Arbitration in Miami

Scott J. Silverman is an international arbitrator and mediator with JAMS, the largest private provider of mediation and arbitration services worldwide.

He served as a judge in Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge (Miami-Dade County, Florida) for nearly 22 years before his retirement in May 2012. Mr. Silverman has a broad range of experience in disputes resolution whether its through arbitration or mediation. In his last Dade County Bar poll those surveyed rated him one of Miami's top circuit court judges (combined votes exceptionally qualified and qualified) .

DBR Best of 2014
Since retiring from the bench, Scott J. Silverman continues to distinguish himself as one of Miami’s premiere arbitrators and mediators. For three consecutive years, Miami’s Daily Business Review's survey has ranked him the Best Alternative Dispute Mediation Individual in its "Best of" 2015, “Best of" 2014, and “Best of" 2013 surveys. The Review states, “[Those selected]...are the best of the best. They are the ones that help you with all aspects of your business, from technology to banking to client services.” His consecutive first place finishes earned him a place in Daily Business Review's Hall of Fame - the only individual to have achieved that distinction.

Scott J. Silverman has lectured both nationally and internationally on maritime disputes, which include:

  • "Navigating a Career in Maritime Law," University of Miami School of Law, Miami, florida, March 15, 2016;
  • "World-Leading International Arbitration Institutions," International Litigation, Arbitration * Transactions (ILAT) Conference, The Florida Bar, Miami, Florida, February 26, 2016;
  • "Maritime and Cruiseship Arbitration: Making Waves," 4th Annual Arbitration and Investment Summit - Caribbean, Latin America and Other Emerging Markets, Nassau, Bahamas, January 22, 2016;
  • Experts in the Sunshine State: Universal Issues in the Context of Resort, Tourism, and Cruise Line Cases,” American Bar Association, Boca Raton, Florida, May 16, 2014;
  • “International Arbitration for Maritime Lawyers: You’re Not in Florida Anymore,” JAMS, presented to maritime lawyers and cruise line industry representatives, Miami, FloridaSeptember 26, 2014.

Chambers and Partners, the esteemed London based legal organization rating service for the legal profession, listed Scott J. Silverman in its "2016 Guide: America's Leading Lawyers for Business," and identified him as a "noted" and "recognized practitioner" for his work as an international arbitrator. With respect to Mr. Silverman's work as a mediator, Chambers and Partners wrote:

Well-known mediator and former judge Scott Silverman has a broad-ranging practice in alternative dispute resolution, offering particular experience in commercial, employment and construction matters. 'He has a very good business sense,' say sources,' and as a result is able to come up with creative solutions that people normally don't think about. He is very good at identifying intangibles that people can use in negotiations and mediation.' He is a member of JAMS and is based in Florida.

Best of 2014 Hall of Fame DBR
Mr. Silverman has presided over arbitrations and/or mediations in which the governing substantive law was US maritime law or the law of some other nation. The following represent issues he has addressed:

  • The Jones Act (negligence personal injury claims);
  • Unseaworthiness;
  • Failure to provide prompt, proper, and adequate medical care;
  • Maintenance and cure; and
  • Sexual and gender based employment discrimination

With respect to international maritime arbitrations over which he has presided, the arbitral seats have varied among some of the following countries:

  • Commonwealth of the Bahama;
  • Colombia;
  • Jamaica;
  • Nicaragua;
  • Peru;
  • United Kingdom;
  • United States; and
  • Uruguay

International Maritime Arbitration

Maritime arbitration (also known as Admiralty arbitration) is a private adjudicatory process in which disputes are resolved in a private setting as opposed to in a public courtroom. An arbitrator or group of arbitrators render a decision on the outcome of a dispute rather than a judge or jury.

The Right to Arbitrate
The right to arbitrate a case arises from the contract between the disputing parties. In maritime cases, the contract is often times the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiated between the ship owner and the crew member’s union. Other times, the right to arbitrate is found in the contract between ship passengers and the cruise line.

Location of the Arbitration
The arbitration usually takes place in either Miami, the seafarer’s country of residence, or another specific location agreed upon by the parties. If, for example, the dispute involves the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), the location can be either London, Panama, Monte Carlo, or Manila - whichever site is closest to the seafarer’s home country. Frequently, the parties simply agree to have the dispute arbitrated in Miami.

The Number of Arbitrators
Some arbitration clauses call for a sole arbitrator and others require a panel of three. This is determined by the parties’ contractual agreement. Most cruise line contracts today call for a single arbitrator. However, it is not uncommon for the parties to stipulate to a single arbitrator even though the contract calls for more.

The Law to be Applied
In maritime arbitrations, contracts sometimes call for the substantive law of a foreign country to be applied. In many instances, the crew member and the cruise line agree to apply general US maritime law and the cases that interpret it.

Benefits of Arbitration
There are many benefits to arbitration. In the public courts, it can take years for case to go to trial. In an arbitration, it can take just months. In many cases, the contracting parties have agreed to limit depositions and
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this keeps the costs of litigation down. Under the Federal and Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, there are no outright limitations on discovery.

Arbitration proceedings remain private and out of the public arena. This is a huge benefit for many disputing parties.

The Importance of Selecting the Best Arbitrator
Most arbitration clauses do not contain a provision for an appeal. Therefore, absent a specific limited exceptions under Florida law, the arbitrator’s decision will likely be final. Therefore, when a contract calls for arbitration to resolve a dispute, it is important to select an arbitrator who is knowledgeable, fair, impartial, and experienced.

Contact Scott J. Silverman if you are considering a maritime arbitration or mediation in Miami or in any other part of the United States, South America, or Europe.