What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?  Both of these are vehicles for resolving legal or business disputes, but which is better – mediation or arbitration for resolving a lawsuit or disagreement quickly and cost-effectively?

Each has its strengths and each has its drawbacks.  Mediation is an effective tool for those who may have limited disagreement, or contentious disagreement but on a focused issue.  The advantage of mediation is its relative affordability (when compared to mediation) and the influence the parties retain throughout the process.  The parties agree upon a neutral third party – the mediator – who guides the conversation during the mediation.  The mediator should have deep experience and expertise in the matter at hand as well as a skill set that fosters effective negotiations.

The mediator will work to help clarify the issues, and the initial positions of each party so that everyone begins with roughly the same understanding.  The mediator will then work to find common ground, applying their own knowledge and making recommendations regarding potential solutions.  The parties are quite active in these conversations and have a substantial opportunity to have input into and influence over the proceedings.  The mediation may resolve part or all of the dispute at hand.  Mediation is usually substantially less expensive than arbitration and the recommendations of the mediator are not binding.

Arbitration shares a few aspects in common with mediation.  The parties agree upon a neutral third party – the arbiter – who has a depth of expertise on the issues at hand as well as a comprehensive understanding of the laws that govern related disputes.  The arbitration is a much more reserved and focused proceeding, where there is a lot more structure and the rules are quite rigid.

The arbitration begins with attorneys for both sides submitting briefs.  The arbiter may then interview the parties, take testimony from appropriate witnesses and gather evidence.  The arbiter will decide the outcome of the case based upon their deep experience in associated matters and their thorough understanding of the law.  The ruling of the arbiter cannot be appealed unless there is outright fraud or collusion.  The advantage of arbitration lies in the compression of time related to the events and gathering of evidence, as well as the assurance that a decision will be reached.  Arbitration is usually much less expensive than trial in a Court of law.

In summary, it is important to consider all costs associated with a dispute while searching for the most effective route to resolve a business lawsuit quickly and cost-effectively.  In some cases a full trial is the only way to accomplish your objectives.  The attorneys at the Watkins Firm are uniquely positioned to represent you at each stage of a business dispute or lawsuit: Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation.

Will mediation or arbitration be the best alternative for your unique circumstances?  We represent your interests consistently and aggressively throughout, focused upon your goals and objectives for the dispute.  If you are involved in a business dispute we invite you to contact the Watkins Firm for a free consultation at 858-535-1511.

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