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Arbitration of Church Disputes

Court rules that arbitrators' decision is final.

Key point: Church disputes in many states can be resolved through arbitration. In some states, arbitration decisions are final and not appealable to the civil courts.

A Maryland court ruled that the decision of a panel of arbitrators in a church dispute was final and not subject to review by a civil court. A church experienced a bitter internal dispute over the question of who were the church's lawful trustees. A lawsuit was filed by one of the two warring factions, which prompted the other faction to file a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to a state law permitting arbitration of disputes over church elections. The statute provides:

If any contest arises over the voting rights or the fair conduct of an election: (1) Each contending party shall appoint one individual from among the members of a neighboring church or the same religious persuasion or, if there is no such church, ...

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  • March 1, 1994

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