Buffington Law Firm's business litigation attorneys have been frequently asked to explain the difference between mediation and arbitration as means of alternative dispute resolution. Under some circumstances alternative dispute resolution can be a cheap and efficient means of resolving business disputes e.g. breach of contract, unfair competition disputes, etc. that otherwise might require a trial. But what is the difference between mediation and arbitration? This brief Blog article will explain this.
Mediation. Mediation is a process in which the parties attempt to reach a voluntary settlement of their dispute. Typically a formal mediation is conducted by a professional mediator. The professional mediator is typically a retired Judge or, less often, an experienced neutral attorney. Many mediators work for professional mediation/arbitration firms such as Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services Inc. ("JAMS"), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc. ("ADR"), and others. The goal of the mediator is to bring the parties together to a negotiated deal -- a settlement. No testimony is given, no witnesses are sworn -- the process is fairly informal. There is typically no risk to any party because no one is required to agree to anything. The mediator is not particularly interested in what deal is reached, only that some deal is reached. Not all mediations succeed in resolving the dispute. But Buffington Law Firm's business trial attorneys have resolved many contentious business disputes via mediation and this can be a cost-effective and efficient avenue of resolving lawsuits.
Arbitration. Arbitration is very different from mediation. Like mediation, arbitration services are often provided by professional arbitration/mediation firms such as JAMS and ADR. While there are many forms of arbitration, typically arbitration involves a fairly formal process that is similar to an actual trial. It is conducted by an arbitrator, who typically will be a retired Judge. Evidence is given in a manner very similar to an actual trial in court. The arbitrator's role is similar to that of a judge, and the arbitrator also performs the function that a jury would perform in a trial, i.e. the finder of fact. The arbitrator hears and weighs evidence and issues an actual ruling, which typically has the same effect as a verdict in court and which generally can be entered as an actual judgment. Generally, there is only a very limited right of appeal from an arbitration unless specifically provided for. Arbitration can be a streamlined way to resolve disputes outside of court when the parties are simply unable or unwilling to settle their case by negotiation.
If you are involved in a business dispute, we invite you to call Buffington Law Firm and speak to one of our experienced business trial attorneys in a free legal consultation. There is no obligation, and the entire matter is completely confidential.