Family & Divorce
Many different types of contracts contain a dispute resolution provision that stipulates the steps the parties will take should any issues come up that cannot be resolved without some type of outside help. The goal of this provision is to avoid either party from filing a lawsuit and having the dispute turn out into a long, drawn-out legal battle.
Three Different Types of Dispute Resolution Options
There are three different types of dispute resolution options that parties have in these situations – mediation, arbitration, and litigation – and all three have different processes and different benefits and disadvantages for the parties involved.
Mediation is typically the first step before the parties either enter into arbitration or file a lawsuit to litigate the dispute. Although the parties will work with a mediator, the mediator is not a decision maker. Instead, the mediator’s job is to help guide the parties through negotiations to come up with a settlement that both parties agree on.
Mediation is completely voluntary. Neither side can be forced to accept any agreement and the parties are free to end the mediation process at any time. The parties involved in the dispute are in complete control of the outcome.
If mediation does not work and the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, the next step, regardless of which one is taken, is completely binding and the parties do not have the same control as they do in mediation.
If the original contract included an arbitration agreement clause, then no lawsuit can be filed. The parties are required to enter arbitration where an arbitrator will decide the outcome of the dispute. Each party is allowed to have an arbitration lawyer representing them and presenting their side of the dispute, as well as any appropriate evidence, to the arbitrator. Whatever decision the arbitrator makes is final. There is no option to appeal that decision.
If there isn’t an arbitration agreement, and the parties could not resolve their dispute in mediation, then the next step would be to litigate the dispute in court and let a judge or jury decide the resolution. Litigation is a much longer – and more expensive – process than arbitration, however, if one party disagrees with the court’s decision, there is always the option of appealing the case to a higher court.
Contact an Arbitration Lawyer
Contract and other disputes can be complex and expensive. Having a solid document in place at the beginning of your transaction can help avoid some of those potential issues.
If you are in the process of entering into a contract with an arbitration agreement, it is important to make sure you are fully protected and understand how the document will benefit you and what some of the disadvantages may be. An experienced arbitration lawyer can help you both before you sign any documents, as well as if you find yourself in a dispute where arbitration may be a requirement.
Thank you to our friends at Robinson & Hadeed for their information about arbitration agreements.