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Mediation and arbitration are two different forms of dispute resolution. The parties involved in mediation or arbitration have agreed to come together in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle when possible. There can be a lot of confusion when trying to decipher the differences in how each process works. It is important to know the basics of dispute resolution and begin to clarify whether mediation or arbitration would be best to settle your case.

Mediation with a referee

Mediation is the preferred route for settling disputes by the courts as a way to reduce the chances of involved parties actually appearing before a judge. Mediation sessions are conducted by a mediator, a legal referee who is not a judge. The mediator simply serves as a neutral party to settle a dispute between the two parties involved. It is not the mediator’s job to sort out the legal matters involved in each dispute. The mediator lets the parties find a satisfactory resolution. During the mediation session, it is not uncommon for both parties to be put in separate rooms so the mediator can hear each party’s argument separately. When a satisfactory resolution is reached, the mediator’s final responsibility is to draft the decision in outline format. The outline is then taken to an attorney or a judge and drafted into a complete agreement, which both parties sign.

Mediation is commonly used by developers and contractors as opposed to litigation, to avoid mounting fees and court costs. However, there are cases where litigation is the only choice. In litigation situations, the legal fees generally go to the party that won the case.

Arbitration with an expert

If the disputed case is not suitable for mediation, there are times the court agrees to or supplies an expert to review the case.

This process is called arbitration and the expert overseeing is considered the best judge of the case.

There are two types of arbitration. In binding arbitration, the ruling of the presiding expert is final. With a non-binding arbitration, the ruling is entered on the record, but the parties can go to court if they disagree with the finding. Understanding the differences between mediation and arbitration are essential, especially due to the fact that some arbitration is final.

Unlike mediation, with arbitration you are allowed to have witnesses, review documentation, and allow for more involvement from the attorneys. Binding arbitration can take about forty-eight hours to settle and non-binding cases can take about two months.

Court cases can last three to five years, with costs that accumulate the entire time. Arbitration is often the best course of action for a business in order to get a quick, reasonable, and cost-effective ruling. The arbitration process certainly reduces the amount of backlogged cases in the courts.

Considering your options with mediation or arbitration

Mediation and arbitration do not necessarily guarantee the best or most favorable outcome for your dispute. A satisfactory outcome from mediation or arbitration occurs when both sides make compromises and sacrifices.

If you cannot decide if mediation or arbitration is appropropriate for your legal dispute, call the experienced Amarillo attorneys at Sprouse Shrader Smith at (806) 468-3300. You can also Contact Us using our contact form or stop by our offices at 701 S. Taylor Street, Suite 500, in Amarillo, Texas.