A question that comes up fairly frequently at my home inspector training with the Law and Disorder Seminars when I am extolling the virtues of requiring disputes to be settled in Arbitration is whether or not there should be a requirement that the arbitrator be “familiar with the home inspection business.” And many home inspectors have such requirements in the Arbitration Clauses of their Agreements.

As I have written elsewhere on this site, home inspectors have a very dim view of the American legal system and do not expect to get a fair shake. So some of them, in an effort to level the pitch or stack the deck – choose your own metaphor – have inserted this additional requirement into their Agreements.

What I tell them is this: when I was in the Army, forty-some years ago – yeah, I know, I don’t look that old – the Uniform Code of Military Justice had recently been revised to give Enlisted Men who were facing Courts-Martial the right to have one Enlisted Man on the Court-Martial panel. The change was widely hailed as a victory for Enlisted Men [and Women]. The reality for those exercising this “right” was that the Enlisted Man selected to fulfill it was always some cranky senior NCO with a chest festooned with decorations and a lengthy series of service stripes on his sleeve.

It didn’t take long for Enlisted Men to realize that they were much better off with a baby-faced Lieutenant who would actually listen to the evidence before making up his mind.

If you have ever had occasion to read any of the many home inspection message boards extant on the web, you will not fail to notice that there is no shortage of testosterone or pride in their personal work-product among regular contributors to those boards. Would you want any of those folks – the moral equivalent of the cranky senior NCO – acting as your arbitrator? I didn’t think so. That’s also the demographic that populates State Home Inspection Licensing Boards, as well. And you most definitely would not want any of those folks as your arbitrator.

The truth is that in every Court House in every County in this country on every day of the week, juries of laymen are making decisions on matters far more complicated and serious than a residential home inspection: medical malpractice cases, murder cases, securities violations, anti-trust – you name it.

How do they do that? By listening to the proffered evidence presented by the opposing advocates, making factual determinations based on their common sense and then applying the law to those facts.

Your non-home inspector arbitrator will be able to do the same thing and he will not, at the end of the day, be congratulating himself for being a much more thorough inspector than you are. This is a valuable piece of home inspector training.

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