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The Differences Between Mediation and Arbitration

Whether there is an internal dispute at work or your business is having trouble with another company, you do not need to immediately head to court to fix the problem. Almost any type of disagreement can be dealt with in a less contentious manner by seeking an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method with the help of your attorney. Most business people have heard of both mediation and arbitration, which provide ADR for people who want to solve problems quickly and politely without racking up court and attorney’s fees. But without hands-on experience, many people do not understand that mediation and arbitration are different. If you are in the midst of a business problem and you want to find a solution outside of the courtroom, contact the experienced West Palm Beach business attorneys at our office to learn more about your options.

Mediation

Mediation uses a third-party mediator to keep the parties’ conversation on track and ensure people remain calm and polite. The mediator may guide the conversation if it diverges into an unnecessary topic, but most of the talking and all of the decision-making is left up to the parties. He or she is only a facilitator.

In most mediation situations, the parties exchange any necessary paperwork beforehand. They usually only meet to discuss necessary terms of a settlement. The parties involved in the mediation are the only people who decide whether or not to settle the issue and under what terms. The mediator has no control over this and cannot force an agreement.

Mediation ends when the parties reach a settlement or come to the conclusion that they cannot reach an agreement. If the parties come to an agreement, whether or not the settlement is enforceable depends on whether the parties entered into a legally binding agreement or whether the settlement became a court order.

It is important to have your attorney with you during mediation to ensure you protect your rights and are not taken advantage of. When each side is fighting for the best outcome for themselves, your attorney helps you find a compromise that does not hurt your position or rights.

Arbitration

Arbitration is fundamentally different from mediation. While the power to settle remains with the parties during mediation, this power is given over to an arbitrator. Each side may exchange information beforehand, but they will give their arguments, present evidence, and elicit testimony before the arbitrator similarly to how they would in court. This process can be formal or informal, depending on the party’s preferences.

Once the arbitrator has heard the arguments and reviewed the evidence, he or she will decide upon the settlement. An arbitrator’s decision is usually legally binding. Even if the parties do not agree, they must obey the order because they agreed to the arbitration.

Most business people have little experience with presenting evidence and arguing in court, which is why it is crucial to have a business attorney present during arbitration. While it is not the same as heading to court, it is very similar in how parties present their sides of the situation and seek to prove their arguments. An experienced attorney is better able to present evidence in favor of his or her client and show the flaws in the other side’s argument through cross examining their witnesses.

Our Attorneys Can Help You Today

If you are part of a business disagreement or your company is having trouble with another business, call Larry E. Bray in West Palm Beach for sound legal business advice. Sometimes taking someone to court is your best option, but an attorney can also help you solve issues through mediation or arbitration.

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