Roldan involved a binding arbitration clause in an attorney fee contract where the attorney knew that the clients has extremely limited financial means. The trial court ordered arbitration, resulting in a motion by the clients for an order requiring the attorney to pay for the entire arbitration. The trial court denied the motion.
The court of appeals reversed, recognizing that forcing the clients to pay when they cannot would otherwise prevent them from pursuing their claim.
There is a belief that arbitration is fast and inexpensive. While arbitration is almost always quicker than litigation, the costs often remain similar, as administrative and arbitrator fees far exceed court filing fees.
The opinion balanced the financial burdens. If the trial court determines that a party cannot pay for an arbitrator, then the other side will have the option to pay the fees for that party or waive the arbitration agreement. Since the goal should be justice, this approach may be the best option.