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What are Mediation and Arbitration?

When a dispute arises, going to court is one possible way to solve the disagreement. Litigating a dispute can occur in any situation, from a divorce to a disagreement between partners or a conflict in the business world. Unfortunately, litigation is an adversarial process by nature. A plaintiff and a defendant have their own lawyers; they argue against each other; and someone wins while the other party loses. While this winner-takes-all approach is fine in some cases (like when a person is injured and seeking compensation), it creates problems in other situations where the plaintiff and defendant need to continue their relationship after the court case is over.steps man court

The adversarial nature of litigation is just one potential drawback associated with taking a case to court. Litigation can also be expensive and the nature of a dispute will become public, which both the plaintiff and defendant may wish to avoid. Fortunately, there are alternatives to litigation, including mediation and arbitration. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has extensive experience with both mediation and arbitration and our experienced Irvine, CA business lawyers can help you to decide if these methods of alternative dispute resolution are right for you.

Understanding Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are both options for resolving a dispute or disagreement without putting the issue before a judge; however, the two processes are different.

Mediation involves the parties agreeing to get help from a third party mediator. Mediation is often voluntary, although in some cases the court may order you to try mediation before a judge hears a case. The role of the mediator is to make it possible for the disagreeing parties to voice their opinions and desired outcome and to try to find consensus or compromise.  The parties must be willing to listen, cooperate and work together with the help of a mediator in order for the process to work. Typically, either party to mediation can walk away at any time. The process is not designed to assign winners and losers, but rather to get the best outcome for everyone. The mediator does not take sides and does not decide anything; the parties who are disagreeing must work out a solution.

Arbitration is different form mediation. Arbitration involves a trained arbitrator listening to arguments from each of the parties who are involved in a dispute. The process of presenting arguments may be formal and mimic a courtroom or it may be more informal. The arbitrator will then make a binding decision. Arbitration is similar to litigation in that a third party decides on the resolution of a disagreement, and this decision is generally binding unless it is successfully appealed. However, the benefits are that the dispute may remain private; the arbitrator may be able to make decisions on the issue more quickly than the judge; the costs may be lower than litigation; and the arbitrator may have professional or insider knowledge of the subject of the disagreement.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can assist you in deciding if arbitration or mediation is the right choice for resolving your disagreement and can represent you during either process. Call us today at 714-406-4595 or send us a message to learn more about how our Irvine, CA business lawyers can help with mediation and arbitration.