Arbitration is a method that is used to resolve certain types of legal disputes. Rather than litigate their dispute in court, the parties are invited to meet with a third party mediator who will help facilitate discussion between them. This mediator is called an arbitrator, and is trained in dispute resolution techniques that don’t involve direct conflict or confrontation.
During arbitration, the parties are encouraged to reach a settlement or conclusion regarding their dispute. In a binding arbitration, the results of the discussions are formalized and become enforceable by law. Often times the results are forwarded to a judge who will approve the papers and issue a court order based off the findings.
Binding arbitration is a useful tool as it can help the parties save much time, money, and energy on the dispute. Binding arbitration can be used to deal with issues such as:
- Employment contract disputes
- Business transaction conflicts, especially debates over a contract
- Disputes over property and estates
- Child custody and visitation arrangements
- Support payments, such as child support or spousal support
Arbitration can apply to most civil law disputes. Criminal cases generally do not end up in arbitration, as the state has a duty to conduct the prosecution case according to criminal procedures.
In some cases, the court may suggest or provide an arbitrator. In most cases, the parties are responsible for finding an arbitrator. When choosing an arbitrator, be sure that the arbitrator:
- Has experience in moderating disputes in a legal setting
- Has credentials verifying their ability to serve as an arbitrator
- Is neutral and unattached from any interests in the dispute at hand
- Is someone that both parties agree to work with
In many cases, the type of dispute will dictate the type of arbitrator that can be chosen. For instance, insurance disputes will require an arbitrator that has experience and knowledge regarding insurance claims. The same is true for small business disputes, and so forth. The arbitrator can be changed if needed.
Though less formal than court trials, binding arbitrations can still involve a high level of legal knowledge. It’s in your best interests to hire a business lawyer who can help you during an arbitration session. Your lawyer can help you prepare the documents that will be used and can review the laws that might affect your claim. Also, in case you do need to file a lawsuit, your lawyer can assist you with that as well.