Legal matters, generally, arise from some sort of conflict between two or more individuals. As a result of this conflict, some sort of legal action may be initiated. For many legal actions, the expectation is that the case will eventually proceed to some sort of judicial proceeding. However, there is another possible outcome for these cases. This alternative is commonly referred to as alternative dispute resolution or “ADR” for short. ADR refers to a number of forms of alternative resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, or a combination of the two. This article is aimed at discussing what parties can expect when they submit to arbitration in their case.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution in which the parties to a case call upon the assistance of a third party to decide their case outside of the courtroom. A key difference between arbitration and mediation is that the parties must agree to submit to arbitration. This is because, with arbitration, the arbiter is vested with the authority to make a binding decision. In other words, the arbiter actually decides the outcome.
When parties submit an issue or multiple issues to arbitration, they trade the typical courtroom setting for another type of process. Arbitration, for all intents and purposes, is considerably similar to a trial or hearing before a judicial officer. The parties may submit evidence, testify in some fashion, and ask questions of one another. At the close of all the information, the arbiter (or panel of arbiters) will then issue a decision that determines the outcome of those issues submitted to the arbitration process. After a decision has been made, it then becomes binding on the parties.
Why Submit to Arbitration?
There are multiple reasons as to why parties would want to arbitrate their case. One of the greatest benefits of arbitration is that it provides a greater level of privacy than would otherwise occur in a courtroom. Because arbitration typically occurs in a private office, the parties may be able to air their dirty laundry in a more private setting. Beyond the privacy of arbitration, parties also may benefit from specialized experience or expertise of the arbiter. Because parties appoint the arbiter(s) in arbitration, they have a greater degree of influence over the individuals responsible for making a decision. For example, a complex case may require specialized knowledge of an intricate subject. For such a case, the appropriate resolution may necessitate a greater degree of expertise than would be provided by the average judicial officer. Finally, there may be lower costs associated with arbitration than the costs associated with proceeding through the judicial process.
Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process in which parties agree to have their case (or parts of their case) determined by either an individual or panel of third parties. Arbitration, in appropriate circumstances, can be extremely effective. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be appropriate to submit to arbitration. If you have questions about the process, take the time to speak with an attorney. Here at MFL, we specialize in family law and we provide free consultations with our team of qualified attorneys. Give us a call today for a free consultation.