What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative way to resolve conflict. When parties go through litigation in the regular court system, everything is public and can be found by someone looking into the matter. With this process, you have a private arbitrator and the matter remains private. The disputing parties can present evidence and have opening and closing statements, as they do in a trial. They may also bring witnesses.

Unlike a trial, the arbitration process is much quicker and can be less expensive. Scheduling a trial can take years. Scheduling can take several days or a few weeks. Since it’s private, both parties must agree to the arbitrator and they would split the fees.

The parties also decide if they want one arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. The arbitrator(s) act much like a judge would, giving a ruling/award at the end. The arbitration can be binding if both parties agree to it. They will not be able to appeal if it is binding and a court can enforce the judgment. If the parties do not agree to binding arbitration, then the final judgment can be appealed in a court of law. Arbitration awards are rarely appealed in court.

Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator is not a neutral third party. They will be making a decision for one side or the other after hearing all of the evidence. The arbitrator will not “split the baby”. One side will be the clear winner and the other side will be the clear loser.

What is mandatory fee arbitration?

It is a process which may be offered by your local bar association. If attorneys’ fees are in dispute, the clients and attorneys must attend mandatory fee arbitration in order to resolve the issue. Though the attorneys and their clients have to pay the bar association a fee to take part in the arbitration process, the arbitrators are usually volunteering their time for the program. Based on the evidence presented, the arbitrators decide whether the attorneys’ fees are reasonable for the work that was completed.

It’s important to understand the difference between mediation and arbitration. You can always schedule a consult with me to discuss which best suits your situation and will deliver the best outcome.