Legal advice & representation for mediation, arbitration, out-of-court settlements – by experienced San Diego attorneys
San Diego Law Firm has extensive experience in successfully representing our business clients in mediation, non-binding arbitration, and binding arbitration of business disputes. Each of these methods of “alternative dispute resolution” are faster, more economical, and less likely to damage ongoing business relationships than litigation of a case to court judgment, although they are not suitable for every case. When you retain us to represent you in a business dispute, we’ll review your case in depth and discuss whether each or any of these methods would be potentially useful for resolving your case, and whether or not we should first seek resolution by informal settlement discussions.
Both mediation and non-binding arbitration permit you to proceed to court if they are not satisfactory in resolving your business dispute. Binding arbitration, required by some business contracts and by the law for some categories of cases, is more formal, and the conclusion of the arbitrator will generally end the dispute. We’ve explained each of these dispute resolution methods in more detail below.
The solutions to your business disagreement may lie in a mediated agreement. The mediation setting will take the formality out of your dispute and lets you sit down with the other side to create a mutually beneficial agreement, something which in the end can strengthen your business interests. Keep in mind that a mediator’s role is based in neutrality, meaning that even if the mediator is an attorney, he or she doesn’t represent or advise you or the other party. Our years of experience allow us to guide you through the process and maintain caution to protect your business concerns.
Consider the following advantages and drawbacks of mediating, which we’ll evaluate with you and apply to your particular needs and circumstances.
- Mediation offers what litigation cannot, namely, convenience. As a business person, you recognize that time spent focusing on a dispute detracts from your ability to meet business objectives. Litigation is by nature time consuming and brings many delays, while mediation can often resolve your dispute in a few sessions, and can be scheduled to accommodate your needs.
- Your business relationship with the other party may be more valuable than the dispute at hand, and mediation can help preserve that relationship along with your financial interests. This is because many times an agreement reached through mediation diffuses the hostility that a lawsuit produces. For this reason, if the business disagreement at issue involves your family members or a business associate, mediation can be especially useful. Mediation can also help you create a successful business relationship, such as when a new owner is brought into your business.
- If agreement is reached, by mediating your business will have saved money that might have been spent on costly litigation.
- If during the mediation you can’t come to an agreement that satisfies your business concerns, you’re under no obligation to make a deal and you can go back to pursuing your legal options.
- Mediations are not a matter of public record as are court filings and trials, letting you maintain confidentiality, even for the terms of agreement, if agreed upon.
- A lawsuit focuses on specific legal issues and can offer limited remedies to your problem. Mediation instead provides the opportunity for you and the other party to address a broader range of issues that can be damaging to your business relationship, and then create an agreement that fully resolves these issues and clarifies rights and responsibilities before another dispute is created.
- A mediation depends on the good faith participation of all parties, which means that the time you spend on mediation could be wasted if other parties don’t cooperate.
- Even if parties work together, there’s no guarantee that an agreement can be reached, which may send you back to court.
- If you’re seeking compensation from the other party, you may not get as much from a mediated agreement as you might have from a trial court judgment.
- A mediated agreement may be less enforceable than a court judgment, often depending on how you’ve structured your agreement.
While in mediation, the third party only facilitates and does not decide your dispute, in arbitration, the third party arbitrator acts somewhat like a judge and jury. Investigations may take place, lawyers may submit written arguments, and the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will listen to the facts and examine the evidence presented by both sides. Then the arbitrator will make a decision to resolve your disagreement. At the outset, you’ll need to decide whether to submit your business dispute to binding or non-binding arbitration. As the name implies, you must comply with a binding arbitration decision, and usually can’t challenge it. Parties may choose to accept a decision made in non-binding arbitration, but are not required to. Whether any form of arbitration should be used depends on many factors, and in representing you, San Diego Law Firm’s experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will help you determine what your best course of action is.
1. Non-Binding Arbitration
Non-binding arbitration can be further broken down into either court-ordered arbitration or contractual arbitration. If your case is being litigated, a judge may order that your case be arbitrated, and the parties can agree to the decision as a settlement, or instead timely request a new trial. If you and the other party have a contract with each other, it may require an attempt to settle the dispute with non-binding contractual arbitration. Even when there is no contractual provision for arbitration, the parties can, of course, still agree to seek resolution through arbitration. We’ll help you make an informed choice regarding whether non-binding arbitration is right for your case given its advantages and disadvantages, including those discussed below:
- A non-binding arbitration decision can be a good indicator of where you stand and what can happen in court. This, in turn, may help move you and the other party closer to a negotiated agreement outside of court.
- If you’re not satisfied with the arbitrator’s decision, you can still take your dispute to court, or even to binding arbitration. You can still benefit from the arbitration because the process may reveal how to strengthen your position.
- While arbitration is still a fairly formal process, if you and the other party agree to the arbitration decision as a settlement, then you’ll usually realize significant cost and time savings.
- Arbitration can provide you with many of the benefits of a trial, but you agree on the rules that will be followed. This lets you adapt and control the scope (and thus the expense) of investigations and the arbitration process.
- You and the other party can agree to keep everything confidential, which is not the case in litigation.
- In a court trial where the dispute involves specialized or technical subject matter, you run the risk that your case will be incorrectly decided because a judge or jury may not fully understand your case. Arbitration lets you select an arbitrator whose an expert in your subject matter, which can also save you time since you won’t need to educate the decision maker on technicalities.
- If you succeed, your arbitration award may not be as substantial as the compensation you might have received from a court judgment.
- Although court-ordered arbitration is non-binding, if you request a new trial after an arbitrated decision is made, you may risk paying substantial costs if you don’t receive a better judgment at trial.
- There’s no jury in arbitration, but the nature of your case might make it ideal to have a jury render a verdict instead of an arbitrator.
- If your case requires a panel of arbitrators, scheduling difficulties may cause multiple delays.
2. Binding Arbitration
We’ll also evaluate with you whether binding arbitration is desirable in your case. In some situations, binding arbitration will be required by law. Binding arbitration shares many of the benefits and drawbacks of non-binding arbitration discussed above. Additionally, binding arbitration has the advantage of providing you with certainty because you can enforce its decision as a judgment in court if the other party fails to comply with its obligations. Even so, this binding effect also represents its major drawback: even if the arbitrator’s decision is unfair or inadequate to resolve your dispute, you usually won’t be able to challenge a binding arbitration decision. As always, our extensive experience will put you in a better position to decide whether this option has the potential to resolve your business dispute efficiently and successfully.
Benefits to our clients
We are committed to keeping our business clients fully informed and offering them the guidance and support they need to make good choices between different legal alternatives. San Diego Law Firm will ensure that all of your legal matters are supervised by a seasoned senior partner who will act as your Personal Legal Representative and oversee your legal affairs, even if another attorney is performing a particular service for you. For as long as we represent you, you will receive the same dedication and quality of service that brought you to us in the first place.