Resolving Florida Business Disputes with Mediation or Arbitration
The term dispute resolution refers to a variety of processes that can be utilized to resolve a dispute, conflict, or other claim. In most cases, you will hear dispute resolution called alternative dispute resolution and shortened to ADR. ADR is an alternative to having a jury or judge decide your fate and can be used to resolve several different types of disputes, including those involving employment, family, business, consumer, personal injury, and more.
Two of the main ADR options in Florida are mediation and arbitration. It’s important to understand what each process is and how they differ. If you have questions on whether mediation or arbitration is right for your particular situation, you need to speak with a skilled Florida business litigation attorney. At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we help small- and medium-sized businesses with all their legal needs, including business dispute resolution.
Mediation involves bringing in a neutral third party who is a trained mediator. He or she will work to help both sides reach a resolution and settlement. In most cases, a mediator does not have any authority to make a binding decision. Reasons why you want to consider mediation include:
- A mediator is an objective third party and can help both sides explore alternatives.
- Mediation is confidential and private, whereas a trial is public.
- Mediation is less costly than a long, drawn-out trial. Both sides share the cost of the mediator as well.
- Sometimes mediation is used in place of litigation, but it’s also used as part of the litigation process.
- There is a greater chance of salvaging a business relationship after a mediation since both parties were involved with resolving the current dispute.
- The mediator can bring up creative options that neither side might have thought of.
Arbitration is a somewhat similar process, as you submit your dispute to an impartial third party. The main difference is that a mediation is not binding and there is no final decision rendered, while with an arbitration, the arbitrator will issue a binding final decision. There is no formal discovery process and the evidence rules seen in a courtroom will not apply. The arbitrator may request pertinent documents, but it’s far less formal than the courtroom. Both sides will have the chance to present their case, but usually without witnesses.
You’ll find that many business contracts will include a clause about arbitration, often that any disputes must be settled by mandatory arbitration. The reason for this is that business disputes can then be resolved more quickly and in a less contentious manner than the litigation process.
Main Differences Between Mediation and Arbitration
- Arbitration is formal; mediation is not.
- Arbitration’s purpose is to decide in a dispute; mediation is to resolve differences.
- An arbitrator has the authority to render a decision, usually binding; a mediator doesn’t have the power to force parties to reach a decision.
- Parties can withdraw from a mediation whereas you can’t with an arbitration.
Retaining West Palm Beach Business Law Attorney
If you need assistance with resolving a business dispute, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. in West Palm Beach at 561-571-8970 to schedule a consultation.