Abraham Lincoln’s advice to lawyers was “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbor to compromise wherever you can.” While litigation has its place, it is not always the best option. When you put your future in the hands of a court, there is always the chance they will find against you, regardless of how convinced you are that you were right.
Is there an alternative to litigation?
Thankfully, there are alternatives. Alternative dispute resolution is the broad term used to cover arbitration and mediation (as well as other methods that are sometimes used to settle conflicts, like mini-trials and summary jury trials). Alternative methods of resolving a dispute can be especially useful in complex commercial cases, where you are not entirely sure why something happened or whose fault it was.
What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?
Two of the most common forms of alternative dispute resolution are arbitration and mediation. While similar, they do have a few differences:
- Arbitration can be non-judicial, where the parties have a contract that aims to keep litigation out of court. The agreement may specify who will serve as the arbitrator in a dispute. Their decision is generally binding.
- Judicial arbitration (also called court-annexed arbitration), by comparison, is generally non-binding. If a party is unwilling to accept the decision of the arbitrator, they may be able to proceed to litigation.
- Mediation is non-binding and there is no final authority in charge of the decisions. Instead, the mediator seeks to facilitate the negotiations between the two parties so that they can come to a mutually-agreeable resolution without court involvement. It’s also non-binding.
Arbitration or mediation can save you time and money. An attorney who deals in alternative dispute resolution methods can help you find the right choice for your situation.