What is the difference between mediation and arbitration in San Diego and Southern California?  Do you need legal representation for mediation and arbitration?  Mediation and arbitration are Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR options versus going to trial over a business dispute, business litigation or a lawsuit.  The Watkins Firm has represented clients in mediation and arbitration as ADR attorneys in San Diego for decades.  You should definitely have skilled, experienced representation when entering a mediation or arbitration.

The Watkins Firm takes a unique approach to resolving disputes and business litigation.  The most common strategy for resolving a business dispute or lawsuit is negotiation.  Watkins Firm attorneys are usually able to negotiate a settlement or develop a “work around” which helps the parties to move through the dispute and achieve the “benefit of the bargain” they originally intended.  When negotiation is unable to resolve part or all of a dispute, mediation and arbitration are alternatives to consider.  Each has advantages and disadvantages, and our attorneys guide our clients through these decisions to put them in the best position to accomplish their goals and objectives.

Mediation is usually the fastest and least expensive tactic when compared with arbitration or trial before a San Diego Court.  In a mediation, a neutral third party expert (mediator) is selected by the parties in the dispute.  The mediator works with each party separately and then often collaboratively with the parties and their representation to identify potential solutions and seek agreement.  Mediation is confidential and does not become part of the public record.  This format is much less structured from a legal perspective, and the parties and our counsel have strong influence over the outcome in a mediation.  The recommendations of the mediator are not binding, and the mediator cannot enforce a settlement.  This is the potential disadvantage of mediation: you may invest the time and cost to mediate an issue and not reach resolution.

On major difference between mediation and arbitration is arbitration is a much more structured legal environment.  Much like mediation, the parties select a third party neutral expert (arbiter) to hear the case.  The rules of motions and many other legal strategies which delay proceedings and add cost are eliminated in arbitration.  The Watkins Firm and the other party’s attorney will submit a brief to the arbiter outlining our positions in the dispute.  The arbiter will interview witnesses, gather testimony and evidence and render a decision.  You should never go to arbitration without the expert legal representation of the Watkins Firm.  The decision of the arbiter is final and binding, and can only be appealed if there is substantial evidence of fraud or collusion on the part of the arbiter and the other party.  This is very, very rare.  Your risk or contingent liabilities are substantially higher in arbitration, but usually much lower than if you pursue the case in Court.  The advantage of arbitration is you know the dispute will be resolved at the end of the arbitration.

Now you have a general overview of the difference between mediation and arbitration in San Diego and Southern California.  The decision to pursue mediation or arbitration is case specific and driven by the facts.  We invite you to review the recommendations of our clients and contact the Watkins Firm for a free consultation at 858-535-1511.

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