Mediation & Arbitration
If you wish to avoid oftentimes lengthy and costly litigation, mediation or arbitration may be a good alternative to resolve your dispute. Both are forms of alternative dispute resolution ADR) that are intended to avoid the high cost and unpredictable outcome that sometimes results from a lawsuit. Both mediation and arbitration are private forms of dispute resolution, meaning that they are not a matters of the public record like a court case. If confidentiality is important to one or more parties, they may prefer ADR to litigation. These avenues allow the parties to formulate their own rules, including what types of evidence can be presented, which experts can be consulted, and on what basis the final decision will be made.
Mediation is a more informal process than arbitration. The parties choose a neutral third party to assist negotiations and aid in coming to a resolution to their dispute. In mediation, the parties are responsible for coming to a final decision, not the mediator. The neutral mediator listens to both sides and offers suggestions to help the parties come together toward a resolution. Of course, there is always the possibility that the parties will fail to negotiate a settlement even with the help of a mediator and the matter could end up in court.
Arbitration is more formal and a prescribed set of rules applies to the proceedings. The arbitrator is a neutral third party, but he or she may have formal legal training and/or expertise in the subject matter of the dispute. The parties agree beforehand who the arbitrator will be or how he or she will be selected. Unlike a mediator, the arbitrator has the authority to make determinations that are binding on both parties. The arbitrator will listen to both sides and make a decision that is mutually binding on both parties. Arbitration avoids the risk that the parties will not agree and will end up in court. However, one or both parties may be dissatisfied with the ultimate decision of the arbitrator.
Both mediation and arbitration have advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that these processes may save time and money normally spent on a trial. The main disadvantage is that they are not bound to follow legal precedent so the parties cannot count on this to determine the outcome. The advice of a knowledgeable attorney will help guide you through the ADR process and help you get your desired result.