Usually, if someone has violated the terms of a contract, a lease, or otherwise caused civil damages to someone else, these damages would be litigated in a court of law. Sometimes, though, a contract of any kind might have a clause in it that requires any disputes between parties be handled through arbitration. These arbitration clauses seek to avoid courts altogether for several different reasons: it’s generally less expensive than litigation, it’s just as binding as a judge’s decision, and there’s a perception that arbitrators can be less strict than judges. An alternative dispute resolution attorney acts the same as an attorney during litigation, except instead of a judge, it is a licensed arbitrator.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that is generally voluntary, though it can be mandated with a mediation clause in contracts and leases, similar to arbitration being mandated by an arbitration clause. Mediation is a process of give and take, where both parties are guided in discussion by a mediator and seek to find a solution that is acceptable to both sides of the conflict. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the mediation is done. The process of mediation, even if it is mandated by a mutually agreed to mediation clause, is still a voluntary one because both sides need to voluntarily agree, or the mediation fails. And if it does fail, then generally both parties will turn to arbitration, though if there is no arbitration clause but only a mediation clause (highly unlikely but technically possible), then the parties would move to litigation. An alternative dispute resolution attorney can help you represent yourself and identify what your goal with the alternative dispute resolution is. What are you willing to settle for? What are you not willing to accept? Having these ideas in mind is helpful whether it’s alternative dispute resolution or litigation, and an alternative dispute resolution attorney can help you with that.
Arbitration is very similar to court. Both parties can draft motions, both parties send discovery requests to each other, and there is a hearing where both parties argue their case. The difference is that instead of arguing it before a judge, they argue it in front of an arbitrator. An arbitrator is often a retired judge, but can also be a barred attorney. Before arbitration begins, both parties are given a selection of potential arbitrators along with a brief synopsis of their qualifications and their relevant background. If you’re dealing with a construction issue, you’ll likely have a selection of attorneys and former judges who have some sort of experience with construction, whether that means having a law firm that specializes in construction cases or working as a construction worker for a decade prior to becoming a licensed attorney. After selection of an arbitrator, and after any discovery or motions, the arbitrator will hear arguments from both sides of the conflict, hear evidence, and render their final judgment. After arbitration that judgment can be taken to a court of relevant jurisdiction and entered into official record. An alternative dispute resolution attorney can help you throughout the entire arbitration process, just as a litigation attorney can help you during any litigation.
For more information, please be sure to contact us at Mughal Law Firm, PLLC.