Many people, at one point or another, explore the possibility of suing another individual. However, many do not understand what options they have to resolve a dispute. There are many avenues for a dispute to be solved with the help of a third party. These methods include mediation, arbitration, and litigation, which will be discussed below.
MEDIATION: Mediation is a dispute resolution method that reduces the cost and complexity of the litigation process. During the mediation process, parties will meet with a mediator, who is a neutral third party, to negotiate between the parties. A mediator is usually selected by approval of both parties. To negotiate, the mediator asks questions, helps both parties understand the other, and identifies solutions. A mediator’s decision, unless it is court-ordered, is not binding until it has been signed off by both parties. If preserving the relationship between parties is important, mediation is an effective way to do so while allowing for discussions to occur in an orderly manner. Mediation can resolve some, if not all, disputes. Another benefit of mediation is that it is usually confidential. This means that information disclosed during mediation cannot be cited as evidence in litigation, and information disclosed to the mediator can be kept confidential if specified.
ARBITRATION: Arbitration is, unlike mediation, an adjudicatory form of dispute resolution. This means there is an official and binding decision about who "wins" the case at the end of this process. Often, contracts will specify that if a dispute arises between signers, the dispute must be resolved in arbitration instead of in court. In an arbitration resolution, an impartial person will evaluate the case, reviewing things such as briefs, evidence, testimonies, and other information. Once the arbitrator decides on the case, it is usually legally binding and will be upheld in court. In summary, “Arbitration is best for cases where the parties want another person to decide the outcome of their dispute for them but would like to avoid the formality, time, and expense of a trial”.
LITIGATION: Litigation through the courts system is a structured method of dispute resolution in which a complaint is filed and both parties appear before a judge. Trial, typically thought of as the culmination of litigation, is what is presented in most television shows and movies on how cases are handled. However, only approximately 1% of all civil cases filed in federal court are resolved by trial. During a trial, a complicated process called “discovery” determines what evidence can be used in the case. If it is a jury trial, the jury will make its decision based on the arguments presented and will announce its decision to the judge and parties of the case.
The best method for dispute resolution varies from case to case. Sumsion Business Law can help you navigate this process. We have experienced attorneys who can represent you in any of these methods of dispute resolution. To learn more about how we can help you with a dispute, visit our Mediation/Dispute Resolution page.