Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution and is used to avoid a court proceeding for individuals or companies involved in a dispute. In arbitration, the parties with a conflict select a neutral third party, called an arbitrator. The arbitrator will hold one or more hearings at which both sides can present evidence and testimony. After reviewing evidence and testimony of the parties, the arbitrator will render a decision. In most cases, the arbitrator’s decision is final, though arbitration can be either binding or non-binding. In non-binding arbitration, either side can reject the arbitrator’s award, and then the case would proceed to a trial. The arbitrator’s decision is typically not allowed to be mentioned at the trial.
In some cases, arbitration is required, primarily when contracts between the parties provide that any dispute will be resolved through arbitration. Arbitrators do not have to follow legal precedents, as judges do. They also are not required to explain the reasoning behind the decision. Arbitration can be performed by one arbitrator or by a panel of several arbitrators.
Arbitration can offer a number of advantages over a courtroom proceeding. First, arbitrations are usually faster than litigation, especially now when court dockets are overflowing in most counties. Arbitration also tends to be less expensive than a traditional lawsuit. Furthermore, if the dispute is of a highly technical or scientific nature, arbitrators with expertise in that area can be chosen. Arbitration proceedings are usually private rather than public, such as a trial. Finally, the fact that decisions reached in an arbitration usually cannot be appealed offers the advantage of certainty for the prevailing party.
Arbitrators in many areas can award a variety of remedies. They include ordering one party to pay a sum of money, ordering a party to do or not to do something, making a declaration as to a matter determined in the arbitration, ordering performance of a contract, or ordering a contract to be set aside. Arbitrators may also be able to compel third parties to comply with discovery demands by disclosing records or other critical information.
If you feel arbitration may be an avenue worth considering for your legal dispute, contact our law firm today for a consultation.