50-45. Appointment of arbitrators; rules for conducting the arbitration.

(a) Unless the parties otherwise agree in writing, a single arbitrator shall be chosen by the parties to arbitrate all matters in dispute.

(b) If the arbitration agreement provides a method of appointment of arbitrators, this method shall be followed. The agreement may provide for appointing one or more arbitrators. Upon the application of a party, the court shall appoint arbitrators in any of the following situations:

(1) The method agreed upon by the parties in the arbitration agreement fails or for any reason cannot be followed.

(2) An arbitrator who has already been appointed fails or is unable to act, and a successor has not been chosen by the parties.

(3) The parties cannot agree on an arbitrator.

(c) Arbitrators appointed by the court have all the powers of those arbitrators specifically named in the agreement. In appointing arbitrators, a court shall consult with prospective arbitrators as to their availability and shall refer to each of the following:

(1) The positions and desires of the parties.

(2) The issues in dispute.

(3) The skill, substantive training, and experience of prospective arbitrators in those issues, including their skill, substantive training, and experience in family law issues.

(4) The availability of prospective arbitrators.

(d) The parties may agree in writing to employ an established arbitration institution to conduct the arbitration. If the agreement does not provide a method for appointment of arbitrators and the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator, the court may appoint an established arbitration institution the court considers qualified in family law arbitration to conduct the arbitration.

(e) The parties may agree in writing on rules for conducting the arbitration. If the parties cannot agree on rules for conducting the arbitration, the arbitrators shall select the rules for conducting the arbitration after hearing all parties and taking particular reference to model rules developed by arbitration institutions or similar sources. If the arbitrators cannot decide on rules for conducting the arbitration, upon application by a party, the court may order use of rules for conducting the arbitration, taking particular reference to model rules developed by arbitration institutions or similar sources.

(f) Arbitrators and established arbitration institutions, whether chosen by the parties or appointed by the court, have the same immunity as judges from civil liability for their conduct in the arbitration.

(g) "Arbitration institution" means any neutral, independent organization, association, agency, board, or commission that initiates, sponsors, or administers arbitration proceedings, including involvement in appointment of arbitrators.

(h) The court may award costs under G.S. 50-51(f) in connection with applications and other proceedings under this section. (1999-185, s. 1; 2005-187, s. 4.)