Alternatives for Resolving Business Disputes
Business owners are quick to learn, sometimes too late, of the potentially devastating expense of litigation. The reality is that most civil cases are settled rather than taken all the way to trial, so settlement is actually the usual method of resolving disputes. The goal is achieving a settlement with minimal costs and hassles. Smart business owners seek alternatives to resolve commercial disputes.
Other than litigation, there are basically only two types of alternatives available to resolve commercial disputes, arbitration and mediation.
Mediation involves an impartial third party who assists the parties to voluntarily settle their differences. Mediation is not litigation and most business owners are unprepared for it. Mediation is a moderated, structured forum for negotiation through a third party mediator who serves as a facilitator to encourage communication likely to produce a settlement. Mediation is not about fighting with an adversary and convincing a judge (or an arbitrator) that your position is correct. Mediation discourages aggressive actions and attitudes that present barriers to effective negotiations and agreement.
Arbitration involves a determination by a neutral arbitrator (judge) to ascertain who is right and who is wrong. Arbitration is an adversarial process that is similar to litigation, and for this reason it is not generally preferred as an alternative to litigation. Arbitration is similar to litigation, but it is designed to accelerate the decision-making process, as long as it is not abused.
For several reasons, mediation is usually preferred over litigation or arbitration as the dispute resolution method of choice. In mediation the parties decide themselves how to resolve their dispute by talking out their differences, with the mediator helping get them past their positions so that the parties real interests can be addressed. Mediation can be used to avoid costly litigation and is an option that should be explored early in the dispute. It is particularly useful in commercial disputes involving complex business issues. Mediation enables parties to exert control to resolve their differences in an informal, confidential collaborative problem-solving atmosphere with the opportunity to resolve the real causes of the conflict.
Consultation early in the dispute may help reduce the costs of the dispute resolution process and often expedites resolution. Rely on experienced attorneys who are familiar with all alternatives available to reach early resolution. Contact us for a confidential consultation to discuss your business dispute.