Sometimes, mediation does not work or is not appropriate. A similar method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) used to settle disputes in lieu of mediation or going to court is arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral third party hears the arguments and evidence presented from each side and then decides the outcome of the case. This process is more flexible and often has more relaxed rules of procedure and evidence than a formal court proceeding. There are many reasons why arbitration may be the preferred method of dispute resolution:
While the arbitrator for a dispute may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, the arbitration process generally costs substantially less than going to court. Because the amount of time to settle a dispute in court may take much longer than a private arbitration, oftentimes the attorney‘s fees that would be incurred by both parties makes litigating the claim simply uneconomical.
Arbitration affords less control than mediation, but is more flexible than taking a claim to court
Similar to mediation, the time required to settle a dispute through arbitration is usually far less than the time that would be required to resolve the matter in court. An arbitrator can reach a ruling quickly, whereas resolution in court could take anywhere from months to years. The amount of time that an ongoing dispute may take to settle can leave both parties in a state of unrest and give them a sense of uncertainty with regard to the disputed matters.
In general, confidentiality in arbitration proceedings is regarded much in the same way as mediated settlement negotiations, and any communications relating to the subject matter of such disputes can be regarded as confidential— meaning they are not discoverable or admissible as evidence for either party‘s claim. Preserving the confidential nature of these communications is essential to the confidence parties can place in the arbitration process when deciding how to settle a dispute. The confidential nature of arbitration is important because it encourages both parties to be forthcoming and as honest as possible when attempting to resolve the dispute.
Neutrality is one of the foundations of a well-functioning arbitration system since all decisions must be based solely on the arguments made and the evidence submitted by the parties. Arbitrators appointed to preside over a dispute must be approved as impartial by both parties prior to presiding. The impartiality of the arbitrator is essential to both parties in maintaining confidence in the process as a whole.
While the process of arbitration affords the parties less control over the outcome than does mediation, arbitrating a dispute offers more flexibility than taking the claim to court. Arbitration is more flexible than litigation because it has more relaxed rules of procedure and evidence, as well as the ability to set times to accommodate the involved parties‘ schedules, rather than the always-crowded court calendar. This flexibility extends to the rules that are chosen by both parties to be applied to the dispute and the decision of which arbitrator to appoint. For instance, in a matter involving a particularly complex area of law, individuals who have focused their careers on a particular field would be much more qualified to make a ruling than a judge who is assigned to hear a case based on availability alone and who has little experience with a particular area of law. The flexibility of arbitration allows for more customized responses to unique disputes that are not possible with traditional resolution methods.
If you’re in the middle of a personal or business dispute and have already tried to resolve the issue through mediation, or if you think arbitration is more suitable for your case, contact the nationwide network of Christian professionals at Christian Mediation. With offices in most major cities, Christian Mediation can partner you with a mediation or arbitration expert near you.
Call our national headquarters in Phoenix, AZ at (602) 340-8400 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.