Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, a legal dispute is never pleasant. Not only could litigation prove to be extremely costly, it is often long and the results are not always sure. After all, many of those who invest the time and money to take a case all the way to trial do so because the application of the law is not entirely clear-cut. The good news is that there is another way to resolve a legal dispute other than trial. And it is by no means unusual.
You have probably heard of ADR or alternative dispute resolution for which the acronym stands. You are likely also at least vaguely familiar with a number of the major ADR techniques such as arbitration, mediation, judicial settlement conference, or party negotiations. What you may not realize is how these techniques could benefit you and why they should always be on your mind when involved in a legal dispute.
In some ways, arbitration is similar to litigation. In arbitration, one or more arbitrators hear the parties’ dispute and decide the case. In case of binding arbitration, the parties generally cannot relitigate the matter in court. The benefits of arbitration come in the form of more streamlined procedures. The parties may also benefit by selecting arbitrators who are experts in the field. As to drawbacks, some sources indicate that at times arbitration could be more expensive and more time consuming that litigation. Thus, if you have an option between litigation and arbitration, you should always consult a qualified attorney.
In mediation, the parties generally meet with a neutral third party in order to attempt to reach settlement. Unlike arbitration, the third party neutral in a mediation does not decide the outcome of the dispute and the parties are free to walk away and continue litigating. Instead, a mediator merely facilitates the discussions between the parties. In some instances, a mediator with experience in the field may point out the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position.
A major benefit of mediation is the ability of the parties to determine the outcome of the case without the intervention of a judge or an arbitrator. Often times, parties may also save money by utilizing free mediation programs sponsored by the courts or outside entities. The flip side of mediation is the same as its biggest advantage. After all, leaving the ability to decide the case in the parties’ hands may not lead to any resolution whatsoever, leaving the parties stuck with additional expenses.
Judicial Settlement Conference
A court conducted settlement conference is similar to mediation. Usually, a judge or a magistrate will act as a mediator for the parties. The benefits and drawbacks are the same as with mediation. Additionally, the parties may find it helpful to hear the opinion of a judicial officer in evaluating their likelihood of success. As to drawbacks, the respect a judge’s opinion usually commands may leave the parties feeling strong-armed into settling the case.
At any point, parties are free to sit down together, without a third party, and hold their own settlement conference. Again, major benefits of this technique include low costs and the ability of the parties to determine the outcome of the case without the intervention of another party. However, without a neutral party involved the parties may find it difficult to constructively communicate and reach an agreement.
Why should I try ADR?
Consider this: some sources indicate that as many as 95% of cases settle before trial. While the exactness of that figure could be debated for years, it does suggest that settlement is not an extraordinary outcome. The sooner the parties reach settlement, the lower their legal expenses will be. Additionally, if the parties are able to amicably reach an agreement on their own terms, they may be able to continue their professional or personal relationships in the future.
If you are facing a legal dispute and would like to have your case evaluated, call 1-844-HOLBORN and one of our litigation attorneys will be happy to assist you.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside. The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.