When a dispute arises, most people hire an attorney and file suit. Both sides then
enter into the litigation process and begin "discovery" procedures such as
filing interrogatories, taking depositions, and engaging experts. This process can
be very expensive and time consuming, and it may take years for some cases to reach the
courtroom. In many cases, litigation fosters anxiety and frustration.
Mediation and arbitration offer efficient and effective alternative to litigation.
Both may significantly reduce the cost of achieving resolution of a dispute. Both
may be conducted at any time, at any location, and at the convenience of the parties.
In mediation, a neutral party facilitates a discussion between the parties and
their attorneys and keeps them focused on options to resolve the dispute. Initially,
the parties meet collectively with the neutral to discuss the facts of the case. The
parties then adjourn to separate rooms. The neutral assists in settlement
communications and negotiations, but the parties retain decision-making power.
Any resolution comes from the parties and, therefore, meets their needs and
interests. Mediation produces a win-win solution. The parties are free
to pursue litigation if their case is not resolved.
In arbitration, a neutral third party conducts a hearing where the parties and
their attorneys present written and oral evidence. The rules of evidence are relaxed
which gives the parties more latitude in speaking their minds. This opportunity may
enhance each party's satisfaction with the process. Following the hearing, the
arbitrator renders a decision which may be accompanied by an explanation, if
requested. The opinion enables the parties to understand the reasons for the
decision and, therefore, to accept it as a resolution of the dispute. The
arbitrator's decision is final and binding.
Mediation and arbitration are the two most frequently used ADR (alternative dispute
resolution) procedures. Others also exist. Call Henning Mediation &
Arbitration Service for information on all ADR procedures.