Vagueness, ambiguity, and silence in arbitration provisions are generally to be avoided so that you don’t have to try a case that should be arbitrated. As the Indiana Court of Appeals recently held, though, being too specific in an arbitration provision can sometimes be just as dangerous.
In Geneva-Roth v. Edwards, the Court of Appeals considered an arbitration provision that specified that the arbitration “shall” be conducted by the National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”). Problem was, the NAF was no more. Since, in the Court’s view, the NAF as arbitrator was integral to the parties’ agreement, the Court agreed with the trial court that the arbitration provision was null and void on grounds of impossibility.