Mediation and Arbitration explained in detail.

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, & Arbitration 

When a business dispute with another person can not be settled by negotiation the usual way to resolve the ‘impasse’ is to file a lawsuit in a state or federal court – the ‘default’ dispute resolution procedure. However, the attorneys’ fees and legal expenses to prosecute or defend court lawsuits are expensive and sometimes parties to a dispute simply can not afford to pay them if insurance coverage (which might provide a defense to certain types of lawsuits and claims) is unavailable. Partly in response to this problem, many businesses now agree, in advance, to alternative dispute resolution procedures in their contracts, which will aid them in affordably resolving future disputes with those with whom they do business. The most common of these alternative dispute resolution procedures are mediation and arbitration – matters with which the attorneys at Davis Miles have considerable experience and expertise.

Mediation is a process in which an impartial person (the “mediator”) assists the parties in reaching their own settlement but does not have the authority to make a binding decision about it. The mediator’s role is to help the parties explore issues, needs and settlement options. The mediator may offer suggestions and point out issues that the parties may have overlooked, but resolution of the dispute rests with the parties themselves. A mediation conference can be scheduled very quickly and requires a relatively small amount of preparation time. Many cases are resolved within a few hours. Statistics show that 85% of commercial matters end in written settlement agreements. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may decide to quit the process and file a lawsuit in court, or they may agree to submit unresolved issues to arbitration in lieu of a court lawsuit.

Arbitration is the submission of a dispute to one or impartial persons (the “arbitrator(s)”) for a final and binding decision. Such ‘private arbitration’ (as it is sometimes called) is akin to a private court system where the arbitrators act as judges, and their decisions about the parties’ disputes are legally binding. Private and confidential, arbitration is designed for quick, practical, and economical resolution of disputes. Parties can exercise additional control over the arbitration process by choosing arbitrators that have expertise in the industry they are engaged in, by adding specific provisions to their contracts’ arbitration clauses or, when a dispute arises, through the modification of certain of the arbitration rules to suit a particular dispute. For example, parties to a contract may agree to such matters as the issues subject to arbitration, the qualifications and number of the arbitrators, the types of evidence to be used, the locale of the arbitration hearing, etc. The parties may also provide for expedited arbitration procedures, including the time limit for holding the arbitration hearing and/or rendering an award if they anticipate a need for hearings to be scheduled on short notice. All such mutual agreements will be binding on the arbitrator(s).

Experience that Counts when you need it… The attorneys at Davis Miles have been involved (either as mediators, arbitrators or attorneys representing parties in mediation or arbitration proceedings) in numerous alternative dispute resolution proceedings. If you need representation in a matter that is subject to mediation and/or private arbitration then the attorneys at Davis Miles Law Firm can give you the best possible legal representation in such matters.