While waiting on an arbitration ruling from the National Grain and Feed Association (“NGFA”), I reviewed some of the NGFA’s recent decisions.  I was surprised to see how many cases were not decided on the merits, but rather, a party’s failure to simply comply with the NGFA’s rules.

Take for example Field Farms Marketing v. Prairie Wide Grain, Inc.   The NGFA issued judgment in favor of Field Farms and against Prairie Wide simply because Prairie Wide failed to return a simple piece of paper.

The process is not excessively complicated and starts with a complaint submitted to the NGFA.  Upon receipt of the complaint, the NGFA prepares an arbitration services contract which is submitted to both parties.  Each party must execute and return the services contract to the NGFA within 15 days.

In our example, Prairie Wide failed to execute and return the services contract.  In fact, Prairie Wide failed to respond to the NGFA’s multiple subsequent requests to return the service contract.  Consequently, where “a party fails to execute the arbitration services contract…the NGFA secretary may without further submissions by the parties enter a default judgment…”.  NGFA Arbitration Rule 2(E)

Although it is uncertain whether Prairie Wide would have been successful in arbitration, what is certain is that the failure to execute the services contract cost Prairie Wide $97,689.97.  At the very least, simply returning the services contract would have given Prairie Wide time and some leverage to potentially negotiate a settlement south of the eventual judgment.

Most times, if not always, it pays to do the simple things.