Mediation and Arbitration
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the term utilized to refer to procedures for settling legal disputes by means other than litigation. Mediation and arbitration are the most common types of alternative dispute resolution. The parties may utilize a particular alternative dispute resolution procedure by including a mandatory mediation and/or arbitration clause in their contract, or by agreeing to use one of these procedures after a dispute has arisen. Mediation is a private, informal dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party, i.e. the mediator, meets with the parties both as a group and on an individual basis. After evaluating the information provided by the parties and based on training and expertise, the mediator facilitates the parties in reaching a resolution of the dispute. While the mediator has no power to impose a decision on the parties, often the parties are able to reach a settlement by using this process. Arbitration is typically conducted by one person or by a three-person panel. The arbitrator or arbitrators are selected either directly by the parties or designated by an arbitration agency, and act as both judge and jury. After conducting a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard, the arbitrator or arbitrators render a decision referred to as an "award." In binding arbitration, the award is final and enforceable through the courts if necessary. As such, the rights of appeal from an arbitration award are limited. Use of alternative dispute resolution generally results in a more expeditious and less expensive process, which is typically more satisfactory to the parties than a traditional lawsuit. The parties often have input in selection of the mediator or arbitrator and control over the process including the date, the location and related scheduling issues. Our attorneys have experience serving as mediators and arbitrators, as well as representing clients in alternative dispute resolution. This experience enables our firm to participate completely in any alternative dispute resolution procedure that a court may order or encourage.