In addition to litigation in court before a judge and a jury, there are several alternate dispute resolution techniques which are available to you. Generally speaking, they are arbitration, mock trial, negotiated settlement and mediation.
In arbitration, someone besides a judge and a jury, a private person called an arbitrator, makes the decision as to how a case will be decided. Unless the arbitrator is chosen by a judge involved in a matter primarily because the parties to a dispute cannot agree, the arbitrator can be selected by a process in which the parties to a dispute are involved.
Arbitration can be mandatory and binding if agreed to or required by statute. Non-binding arbitration is designed give the parties an idea how a case may turn out if it is taken to trial and to decide whether to settle a case. While non-binding arbitration does not require either party to accept the decision of the arbitrator, there may be penalties for taking a case to trial and then receiving a result that is significantly less favorable than would have been the case if the decision of the non-binding arbitration had been accepted.
Arbitration is usually considered to be faster and less expensive than going to court, although that is not always the case. One disadvantage to arbitration in Florida is that an arbitrator’s decision normally may not be appealed, with limited exceptions, even if it is incorrect on the facts or on the law.
Mock trial is like non-binding arbitration in that it, too, is not binding. It allows a party the opportunity to try a case before persons who, as much as possible, are similar in character to the judge and the jury or the arbitrator who are expected to determine a case, which has usually already been filed. The party who sets up the mock trial chooses the mock judge and the members of the mock jury, or the mock arbitrator, and attorneys who represent it will usually present both sides of the case – for and against. The decision reached in the mock trial also to gives an idea how a case may turn out if it is taken to trial or arbitration and to decide whether to settle a case.
Negotiated or Mediated Settlement
Then there is negotiated settlement of a dispute so that litigation and arbitration either may be avoided or resolved. Negotiated settlement may occur at any time – before, during and even after litigation or arbitration, including during any permitted appeals. To be successful, the parties to a dispute must agree to resolve all issues related to the dispute, but, if it is successful, negotiated settlement can save significant expenses, attorney’s fees and costs.
Mediation is a process under which a neutral person assists parties to a dispute to reach a negotiated settlement.
If you are a client, Pugh Law is prepared to assist you in deciding whether to negotiate or not, either directly or through mediation and whether to file litigation or arbitration and can help you once the decision is made.
Because litigation and arbitration can be so expensive, we provide those who are not and have not approached us to be clients with the potentially time, aggravation and expense saving process of mediation. If you are interested in our acting as a neutral mediator to help you resolve a dispute, please contact us.