Burr Alert: Arbitration Panel Misconstrues Contractor Licensing Law: Florida Appellate Court Allows Decision to Stand
If you've followed this e-note over the past year or two, then you know that the United States Supreme Court has issued recent opinions on the power of arbitration tribunals to make legal decisions. Even if a review of the arbitration decision reveals an error in legal interpretation, the general rule of the land is that parties who contractually agree to resolve their disputes through arbitration accept the possibility that the arbitration panel may interpret the law or the facts (or both) in a final opinion that is very difficult to overturn on appeal. A recent Florida appellate opinion on contractor licensure emphasizes this nuanced area of the law.
As background, Florida law is clear that a contractor unlicensed at the time of contract cannot maintain an action in a Florida court for unpaid work. See 489.128(1), Fla. Stat. (2009). Florida courts strictly construe these statutes. As a result, litigants in Florida courts can anticipate that an entity that was technically unlicensed at the time it entered into the contract will have an uphill battle in a court of law trying to collect for unpaid work.
Readers can download the article in its entirety here.