Arbitration Through the Office of Consumer Affairs – Home Improvement Contractor Program

Last week, I posted about arbitration in general.  Today, I want to focus on a specific program offered by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.  Among other things, this office oversees the Home Improvement Contractor Arbitration Program or HICARB.  As part of HICARB, homeowner can take a home improvement contractor to arbitration when the homeowner has a problem with renovation work performed by a registered contractor.  The program is relatively low cost and designed for consumers to be able to proceed without a lawyer, although I have arbitrated at least a dozen of these cases in the past fifteen years.  One unique thing about this program is that the decision is appealable and the appeal is accomplished by filing a lawsuit.  For these arbitrations, the parties can arbitrate and hopefully receive a decision that is acceptable.  If not, then the parties can proceed to Court and have the issue decided by a judge or a jury.