Why Should I Use Mediation or Arbitration Instead of Going to Court? Why Should I Use Mediation or Arbitration Instead of Going to Court?

Knowing your options is helpful when it comes to settling your case in or out of the court system. Going to court is typically an option; however, you may choose to resolve your legal matter outside of the court system by using an arbitrator or mediator. However, you might not understand what the difference is between these options and which one is best for your particular legal matter. Here’s an explanation of the options to help you make the appropriate decision for your own case.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is usually quicker and less costly than going to court. When a stalemate occurs in negotiations between you and another party, you may need to employ the help of mediation. A mediator is an impartial third party who helps with reaching an agreement. The mediator acts to help both sides reach a reasonable and fair settlement.

In a mediation meeting, you and the other party or parties typically sit down with the mediator and discuss your particular sides of the case. Then, each party gets an opportunity to speak to the mediator in private. The mediator uses the collected information to prompt you and the others to meet somewhere in the middle, at a point which the mediator considers is fair in light of what’s been presented. If you and the other parties can’t reach a settlement through mediation, there are other ways to come to an agreement.

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is quite similar to mediation in numerous ways. It is still a way to reach a settlement outside of court; however, a decision made via arbitration is usually binding, and the parties involved must abide by it. In an arbitration proceeding, an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators acts somewhat like a judge. The arbitrator(s) review the evidence presented by you and the other party and decide how they feel the matter should be concluded and what compensation should be awarded.

When it comes to making a decision and reviewing evidence, arbitrators have fewer restrictions upon them than judges. Arbitration tends to be less expensive and formal than a courtroom trial but is generally more formal than mediation. Arbitrators, like mediators, listen to both sides’ arguments. These arguments may include evidence from your case and might even include witnesses. Depending on the matter, arbitration could be a voluntary decision or made mandatory.

Unlike mediators, arbitrators will attempt to deliver a formal decision on how they feel the matter should be resolved and compensation awarded. That decision may be either binding or nonbinding. If it is a binding decision, you and the other party must abide by it, just as you would a decision made by a judge. You have the option to reject the arbitrators’ decision if it is nonbinding and seek a settlement through another means.

If you can’t reach a settlement through mediators and arbitrators, going to court is always an option. When deciding which option to take to reach a resolution in your legal matter, your best bet is to hire an attorney. Schedule a consultation with a qualified and credentialed attorney for more information.