(a) On a party’s application showing an agreement under G.S. 50‑42 and an opposing party’s refusal to arbitrate, the court shall order the parties to proceed with the arbitration. If an opposing party denies existence of an agreement to arbitrate, the court shall proceed summarily to determine whether a valid agreement exists and shall order arbitration if it finds for the moving party; otherwise, the application shall be denied.
(b) Upon the application of a party, the court may stay an arbitration proceeding commenced or threatened on a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate. This issue, when in substantial and bona fide dispute, shall be immediately and summarily tried and the court shall order a stay if it finds for the moving party. If the court finds for the opposing party, the court shall order the parties to go to arbitration. An arbitrator shall decide whether a condition precedent to arbitrability has been fulfilled and whether a contract containing a valid agreement to arbitrate is enforceable. If a party to a judicial proceeding challenges the existence of, or claims that a controversy is not subject to, an agreement to arbitrate, the arbitration proceeding may continue pending final resolution of the issue by the court unless the court otherwise orders.
(c) If an issue referable to arbitration under an alleged agreement is involved in an action or proceeding pending in a court of competent jurisdiction, the application shall be made in that court. Otherwise, the application may be made in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(d) The court shall order a stay in any action or proceeding involving an issue subject to arbitration if an order or an application for arbitration has been made under this section. If the issue is severable, the stay may be with respect to that specific issue only. When the application is made in an action or proceeding, the order compelling arbitration shall include a stay of the court action or proceeding.
(e) An order for arbitration shall not be refused and a stay of arbitration shall not be granted on the ground that the claim in issue lacks merit or because grounds for the claim have not been shown. (1999‑185, s. 1; 2005‑187, s. 2.)