The cost of litigation leads many parties to seek out some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. Mediation and arbitration are designed to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom.
Mediation is a process where the parties to a dispute meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and try to reach a settlement. The mediator’s role is to offer insights, communicate information and proposals, make suggestions and observations, and assist the parties in coming up with an acceptable settlement. The mediator does not have the power to impose a settlement.
Arbitration involves the parties to a dispute submitting the case to a single arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators. An arbitrator is a neutral third party who considers the evidence, law, and arguments presented by the parties. At the end of an arbitration, the single arbitrator or arbitration panel issues a binding decision that resolves the dispute.
Mediation and arbitration frequently reduce the time and legal costs it takes to resolve a dispute. Even after a lawsuit has been filed, the parties can and should consider submitting their dispute to mediation or arbitration.