Arbitration. Mediation. Litigation.
These are words that most of us hope we never have to deal with personally.
Arbitration, mediation, and litigation are all methods of resolving legal conflict. Litigation is what most people think of as “going to court.” Litigation puts control of the case and the case’s outcome into the hands of the court system and the judge or jury handling the case. While at times, it’s necessary to hand over control of your case to outside entities, this form of conflict resolution tends to be drawn out and expensive.
Arbitration and mediation, on the other hand, are ways of handling disputes outside of the court system. As such, they are not matters of public record, making arbitration or mediation ideal for cases where confidentiality is important. In this post, we will discuss the differences between the two methods and how to discern which method is more likely to be effective in your case.
Mediation allows the parties in conflict to maintain the most autonomy and influence over the outcome, and the more informal nature of the mediation process even lets them establish their own ground rules of engagement. In the mediation process, a third-party mediator listens to both sides of the dispute and seeks to help the parties arrive at a sustainable compromise. The mediator doesn’t have legal authority but is typically trained in conflict management.
- Mediation necessitates both parties being willing to reasonably sort out an issue and decide on a way forward. If one of the parties is unreasonable or refuses to participate in reaching a compromise, mediation might not be the best way forward.
- Furthermore, mediation operates effectively when there is a good-faith effort on both sides to reach an acceptable settlement. If any party in the dispute is not acting in good faith, resolution through mediation is less likely to succeed.
- Finally, if the case involves a point of law or allegations of any sort of legal infraction, mediation may not be an option.
Decisions reached via mediation are not legally binding, and if mediation fails to resolve the dispute, dissatisfied parties can opt to seek a court trial.
Arbitration follows a more formal process than mediation and involves a legally binding outcome. In arbitration, both parties present their side to a mutually agreed-upon arbitrator. The arbitrator typically has some legal training in the respective subject matter and, after hearing both sides of the issue, proposes a legally binding resolution. Arbitration avoids the exhausting wait times, expense, and paperwork of litigation as well as the legal uncertainties of meditation, but runs the risk of one or both parties being dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision.
In the end, there’s no one “right” way to resolve a legal dispute. The challenge is to discern which process is likely to be the most effective one for your situation. Sometimes life brings us challenges that we didn’t choose for ourselves, and sometimes those challenges include legal issues. If you find yourself facing difficult legal choices, we here at Castan and Lecca want you to know what your options are, and we are committed to treating you like family. Please reach out to us for a free consultation. You don’t have to fight alone.