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Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Benefits of Arbitration and Mediation

The attorneys at Bodie, Dolina, Hobbs, Friddell & Grenzer, P.A. have extensive experience in representing clients in legal disputes informally and out of court, through alternative dispute resolution.

What is it?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers individuals that are engaged in a civil dispute a method of settling issues outside of court. Addressing civil disputes through ADR is often less expensive and more private than that which takes place in court.

Mediation

There are two forms of ADR. Mediation is an option that allows parties within a dispute to decide if they will agree to a settlement. Though a mediator—often a lawyer or other legal authority—is present during mediation, this individual does not have the ability to enforce a resolution. A mediator serves as an intermediary, and works to counsel the parties on fair and practical settlement options. The process of mediation can be customized to the needs of the disputing parties.

Mediation has become an efficient and effective way to settle civil disputes outside of a trial. While traditional litigation requires court fees and extensive time commitments, mediation of civil disputes has shown evidence of being highly successful. The process is often undertaken in a neutral environment, where disputing parties have the ability to openly voice their position. By offering a third party perspective into the dispute, a mediator can help individuals to see issues in an impartial light, reducing the tension that often influences additional problems.

As previously stated, mediation is often informal and relatively inexpensive. Additionally, parties often find that settlement agreements can be issued in a more expedient manner than through traditional legal channels.

Arbitration

Arbitration is a second form of ADR. Parties involved in a dispute will present evidence and statements to an arbitrator. This individual is given the authority by the parties to make a decision on the dispute based on the information he or she is provided. Upon making a decision, the arbitrator will provide a written arbitration award that serves as the settlement of the dispute.

The award issued by an arbitrator is legally binding, and enforceable by law. Because of this, arbitration is usually undertaken by parties who have not been able to settle a dispute through mediation. Moreover, some contracts require that any dispute automatically be settled through arbitration, rather than undergoing mediation or litigation.

Arbitration Versus Mediation

Though mediation and arbitration are similar in intent, parties may benefit from one or the other based on their specific dispute. Both options allow for a more informal and private alternative to traditional litigation, while also reducing legal costs. But, the decisions issued through arbitration have different implications on the affected parties than a voluntary agreement reached in mediation.

Mediation is conducted by having one individual facilitate inter-party discussion and resolution. This person is not responsible for making a decision regarding the dispute, but helps parties come to agreement. The mediator’s opinion is not binding on any party. In arbitration, an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will take on the role of a judge, considering evidence and statements to make a legally binding decision.

Both processes are advantageous for individuals involved in civil disputes, as well as for reducing court dockets and costs. These forms of alternative dispute resolution have become successful enough in reducing time consuming trials, that some state legal systems require disputing parties to undergo mediation or arbitration before, or instead of litigation. The attorneys at Bodie, Dolina, Hobbs, Friddell & Grenzer, P.C. are proud to be at the forefront of offering creative and innovative resolutions to legal disputes. Contact the firm for more information on alternative dispute resolution, or for a consultation of your case.