Arbitration and Mediation
Arbitration and mediation are two different versions of what attorneys refer to as Alternative Dispute Resolution or “ADR.” ADR is often used as a quicker and more efficient way to achieve the resolution of a case than what is typical to the usual course of litigation. Though mediation and arbitration are forms of ADR, they have some important differences.
Mediation is non-binding and is generally used in conjunction with traditional litigation. It is not unusual for parties to agree to sit down with a neutral mediator and try to reach a resolution after a certain amount of fact-finding is completed. Mediation is characterized by an open mindedness of the parties, where each party acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases and get over the mental hurdle of wanting to prove that their theory of the case is right. A good mediator will explain each side’s strengths and weaknesses and keep everyone to the mindset that they are seeking to resolve the case. Mediation is preferable whenever possible.
Arbitration is different than mediation in that it is a typically binding process that replaces the traditional litigation track in the courthouse. Sometimes arbitration results as a matter of law and sometimes arbitration results as a matter of agreement between the parties. Court annexed arbitration, meaning arbitration through the courthouse conducted in a streamlined and simplified process, is mandatory for cases filed in court for less than $50,000 as a matter of law. Private arbitration often results from agreement and can be for any amount of money. There are many different types of arbitration, and the rules and requirements differ vastly between each of them. It is especially important to approach arbitration seriously and with the aid of counsel.
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