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Alternative Forms of Dispute Resolution

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Alternative Forms of Dispute Resolution - Anderson LeBlanc Upland Attorney

Alternative Forms of Dispute Resolution

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Story By HG.org

When a legal dispute arises, many individuals believe that litigation is the only way out. However, there are a number of ways that legal conflicts can be resolved without resorting to litigation, including negotiation, arbitration and mediation.

Negotiation
One alternative way to resolve a legal dispute is through negotiations. A negotiation may occur without legal counsel. The parties can try to work out a solution that they are both satisfied with, often giving offers and counter-offers. Negotiations are common in commercial settings in which a conflict can halt a business deal or project. When negotiations are between the parties, they have the greatest ability to save the parties money that would have been expended by hiring attorneys.

Negotiations can also occur between attorneys. During this process, the attorneys serve as middle persons who funnel offers back and forth. The parties do not have to have direct contact with each other. While this is more expensive than going through negotiations alone, the parties may be more likely to get what they want out of a deal since their attorneys are likely more seasoned negotiators than they are. A successful negotiation will still likely save more money in legal expenses than having to go through a full trial. Additionally, the attorneys can formalize the agreement as an official settlement agreement, minimizing the likelihood of one of them reneging on the deal as they might without attorneys intervening.

Arbitration
Another form of alternative dispute resolution is arbitration. This process is similar to litigation, but it tends to be not as formal, shorter and less costly. In arbitration, the parties agree to the parameters of the process, including the person who will decide the case, known as the arbitrator. This allows the parties to select a decision maker who has a background in the relevant area of law, such as family law or commercial law. Retired judges and other attorneys are commonly arbitrators.

The process proceeds much like a trial. The parties participate in discovery. During arbitration, the arbitrator accepts evidence and hears testimony. He or she may also ask questions during the proceeding. At the end of arbitration, he or she makes a final decision on the case.
While litigation can take years before it is finally resolved, arbitration can often be completed within three to four months.

Arbitration is not an inexpensive process, but it does usually cost significantly less than litigation. Part of the reason for this decline in the price is that the parties can often agree to a narrower approach to discovery, which amounts to fewer attorney hours. There is also a greater sense of finality with arbitration because the decisions cannot be appealed unless there are very specific circumstances that arose, such as fraud.

Mediation
Like with arbitration, the parties of the dispute get to decide the other person who will be involved with mediation. However, a mediator serves a much different role than an arbitrator. In arbitration, the arbitrator is the decision-making authority. In contrast, a mediator has no ability to make decisions. Instead, the role of the mediator is to help the parties communicate better so that they can come up with an agreement with which they are both satisfied.

Mediators receive special training in conflict resolution skills. They are effective because they help to identify the interests of the parties. They use this information to help guide a negotiation between the parties that will provide them with mutual benefits. Mediators may suggest possible solutions to the problem.

Another important role of the mediator is to provide an objective opinion about the case. He or she can listen to each side of the dispute and point out strengths and weaknesses. This helps manage unrealistic expectations harbored by the parties. He or she can also bring relevant information back to the parties and funnel settlement offers back and forth. He or she often helps draft the final settlement agreement if the parties reach a solution.

Mediation must be voluntarily entered into. The parties do not have to agree to resolve their dispute. They only sign off on the mediation agreement if they agree to do so. The process of mediation is confidential and anything discussed during mediation cannot be repeated in court.

Mediation takes a different amount of time in different areas. However, two to eight weeks is average. This shortened period of time allows the parties to save money.

Read the original post at HG.org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Story By HG.org
HG.org was one of the very first online law and government information sites. It was founded in January of 1995 by Lex Mundi, a large network of independent law firms. The objective of HG.org is to make law, government and related professional information easily and freely accessible to the legal profession, businesses and consumers.

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