Are you involved in a legal dispute? Perhaps you or another party has requested an arbitration meeting.

However, you know nothing about the arbitration process. 

The process involves gathering evidence, assembling witnesses, and presenting arguments. From there, a person or panel will issue the proper verdict. 

It resembles a court hearing, but it’s less formal. This type of hearing will resolve disputes faster. 

This article will discuss arbitration hearings in greater detail. Let’s explore.  

What is Arbitration? 

Arbitration is a resolution body that’s independent of the court system. The hearings are private, and the court shouldn’t interfere in the hearings.

A panel usually hears the arguments. The panel will make decisions that all parties must agree to. 

The rulings within this system are binding, and another body cannot overrule the decision. There’s also no option to appeal the ruling

One person can preside over the hearings and make the final decision. Conversely, three people usually reside over the process. Overall, the panel will consist of an odd number of people to foster a tiebreaker if necessary. 

A person can become a panelist if each party mutually agrees to the appointment. In some instances, each side may choose an arbitrator. Then, the two panelists appoint a third person. 

On the other hand, an outside party may choose the panel members, such as a court or an institution. The panelists can be from all walks of life. For instance, the panel members could be lawyers

The panelists are objective parties that will resolve lingering disputes. The goal is to impose a fair verdict. 

Overall, there are three types of arbitration:

  • Consumer Arbitration: Consumer arbitration pertains to disputes between consumers and businesses. 
  • Labor Arbitration: Labor arbitration refers to employment disputes and collective bargaining agreements. There are two types of labor arbitration: interest arbitration and rights arbitration. Interest arbitration involves bargaining disputes, and rights arbitration addresses violations within collective agreements.  
  • Commercial Arbitration: Commercial arbitration settles disputes between two enterprises. Commercial arbitration is the most common type. 

Arbitration is different from mediation, where the rulings are non-binding. In some cases, however, arbitration rulings are also non-binding. 

How the Process Works 

First, one party can petition the American Arbitration Association (AAA) for a hearing. From there, the opposite party receives a notification about the filing.

The receiving party must respond within a certain deadline. You may also find arbitration clauses in contracts and agreements.

The contract will appoint a neutral body, such as the AAA. It may also appoint another institution (i.e. the National Arbitration Forum).  

When both parties agree to the arrangement, the neutral organization may establish procedures and guidelines conducive to both parties. Procedural issues may include such matters as:

  • Gathering evidence
  • Finding Witnesses
  • Obtaining Depositions
  • Deciding the number of arbitrators
  • Imposing timelines and deadlines 
  • Deciding how the arbitrators are chosen
  • Establishing award procedures

The preliminary hearing exists to establish basic rules before proceeding any further. Leaders within the body are free to tailor the hearing as necessary.   

After, both sides will present their arguments and convey additional information. Then, the primary hearing takes place.

Both parties present evidence and hear witnesses. In most cases, the hearing will only last a single session.

After the hearing concludes, both sides will present additional information and documentation if necessary. However, the submission of additional information depends on the panel’s discretion.

Shortly thereafter, the panel will issue a verdict. They will also bestow awards as stipulated from the procedural hearing. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

This resolution process is usually faster than the court process. Whereas a hearing can last a single session, the court system may involve several sessions. 

In many cases, all parties must wait before a judge or jury hears the case. They must also wait until judges can fit the hearing in their schedules. Further, the preparation time is less demanding.

Plus, arbitration meetings can be less costly. Prolonged court sessions can add up over time. 

  • Note: Arbitration can also be costly, with a single arbitrator costing $2,000 or more. However, the cost depends on how the parties structure the hearing. 

This type of procedure also allows you to appoint experts and professionals who understand the subject matter.

In a court hearing, you may contend with a judge or jury who doesn’t fully comprehend the dispute. This is especially true when dealing with complex business matters. 

Cons: 

Despite the convenience, you may scoff at the informal evidence methodologies. Since no judge or jury examines the evidence, you may end up with a panel who doesn’t know how to organize the evidence. 

Moreover, many critics note the inability to appeal a decision from the panel. You must abide by the rulings of the hearing, no matter how unjust the verdict may be. 

Additionally, arbitration clauses outlined in contracts and agreements usually favor the companies instead of a person. Therefore, the procedure may not be as neutral as you’d think. Worst of all, you may deal with a biased arbitrator who favors the other side.  

Is the Arbitration Process Worth It?

The arbitration process is worth it if you don’t want to proceed through the court system. When considering the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration, the pros tend to outweigh the cons.

Arbitration hearings are objective bodies that can issue a just verdict to both sides. If you prefer formality, however, consider a court hearing instead. More importantly, discuss your case with an attorney who is familiar with this type of hearing. 

Are you dealing with a legal dispute after an injury? Click here to learn how a personal injury lawyer can help you.  

Dealing with a dispute?

In both business and personal matters, sometimes people can agree, but more often, they cannot. When these disagreements revolve around money, valuable assets, or impactful arrangements, then you may want to consider mediation.

What is mediation, you ask? Read on for the rundown!

Situations That Call for Mediation

Does your situation call for a mediator? Often mediation occurs in neighborhood justice centers, and family, small claims, and criminal courts.

However, in many cases, you can contact a mediator to avoid court altogether. Situations where you may want to seek a mediator include:

  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Contract Disputes
  • Tax Disputes

Any time you and another party seem to carry different views of rights, ownership, or law, you should consider hiring a mediator.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation refers to an informal alternative to litigation. The process occurs in a private and confidential setting that offers a more amicable approach than court.

The mediator serves as a neutral party in the matter. They do not pass any judgment, decide the end result, or force the parties into agreement. 

The mediator’s role involves creating a safe and productive atmosphere for both parties. Though this person will not interfere with the outcome, they will ensure both parties get a fair chance to speak without interruption.

If the session turns unproductive or hostile, the mediator will step up to diffuse the situation and redirect the focus to finding a solution.

The Mediation Process

You do not typically walk into mediation and solve your qualms instantly. This process typically happens through multiple sessions.

Sometimes a judge mandates it, and the court sets it up. If you avoided court, then you or somebody from another party contacts a private mediator.

Once the first visit is scheduled, you can expect the following.

Joint Session

Your first meeting with the mediator should include all parties involved in the dispute. This session helps everybody understand the situation from all angles.

It begins with an explanation of how the mediation process will work and lays ground rules that everybody needs to follow.  In this session, the mediator will allow each party to speak about the way they see the situation and the solution they want. They will help them clearly define the issues and create an agenda for moving forward.

The separate Caucasus

After the initial meeting, disputing parties will generally deal with the mediator in separate caucuses. During this time, the mediator will serve as a middle man to relay messages involving new proposals, offers, counteroffers, demands, questions, and clarifications.

Mediation Agreement 

At the closing of this process, hopefully, the parties find enough common ground to reach an agreement. When this happens, the mediator will write out a mediation contract.

Both parties will receive a copy to read over. Read every word carefully, so you know exactly what you are agreeing to, as this seals the deal.

If both parties agree, they sign and exit the mediation process with a contract to follow. If you cannot reach an agreement, then mediation ends, and you or the other party may seek arbitration.

Do I need a Lawyer?

Some people choose to navigate the mediation process alone for the sake of saving money. However, you may want to hire a lawyer to consult throughout the process. Once both parties sign the mediation agreement, the contract becomes legally binding.

Benefits of Mediation Resolution

A number of courts exist to settle disputes. Why choose mediation?

Consider these benefits!

Peace

Taking somebody to court always creates hostility on some level. Asking them to join you in mediation extends them the courtesy of trying to solve a dispute with you rather than showing them you will fight for your way. This helps maintain peace between family, friends, neighbors, and business partners.

Control

The minute you walk into a courtroom, you hand overall control over the situation. The judge assumes authority, and you cannot take it back.

In court, somebody else will hear you both out and then decide on a solution they find fair. Mediation allows you to keep all control within the parties. Together you get to decide your fate.

Free Will

You enter into mediation by voluntary action. Nobody can force you to remain in a single session if you feel overwhelmed, and they cannot make you follow through with the process if you change your mind. But, understand that backing out can potentially result in a mandated court process.

Time

Court times get decided for you. When you do not show up, it can impact the decision against your favor.

With mediation, you get to agree upon a time that works for everybody. Plus, the mediator will not leave you waiting, the way it often happens in court.

The court’s deliberation process often moves slowly. They may schedule sessions weeks or even months apart. 

This can mean that you will not see a solution in the near future. But, mediation can help you settle your dispute quickly.

Cost

Time is money. So spending less time in this process means spending less cask overall.

The court can hit you with unexpected legal fees and needing your attorney throughout the entire process will add up. With mediation, you will pay your mediator for their time at a rate you know upfront. Since you will only need to contact your attorney for brief matters, those fees will stay manageable.

Confidentiality

When you choose mediation, the counselor cannot ever discuss your case with an outside party unless granted special permission by everybody involved. You can speak freely within the guidelines, and your business remains there.

A courtroom often opens its doors to the public. Everything you say goes onto the official record and can be used against you.

Settle Your Disputes Civilly

What is mediation? It is a means to settle your disputes civilly and find a solution that works for everybody. This saves you valuable resources and preserves important relationships.

Whether you need a lawyer to read over your meditation agreement or somebody to help you take it to the next level when you cannot come to a fair solution, we can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.