A Guide to Mediation & Arbitration

For businesses that have a dispute to resolve, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and arbitration have become increasingly popular alternatives to traditional litigation.

Below is a guide to the steps involved in mediation and arbitration and tips on how to prepare for an effective resolution of your dispute through ADR.

The Steps Involved in Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary method of resolving a dispute in which a neutral third party, known as the mediator, facilitates discussions between the parties.

Unlike arbitration or litigation, where a decision is imposed on the parties, mediation gives the parties the opportunity to work together to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

Here are the typical steps involved in mediation:

  1. Choosing a Mediator: Find an experienced mediator who has successfully resolved many other cases through mediation.
  1. Introduction: When you begin, the mediator will explain the rules and set the tone for the proceedings.
  1. Opening Statements: Each party will present their side of the case.
  1. Discussion and Negotiation: The mediator will guide the parties through a series of discussions and negotiations with the goal of finding potential solutions and common ground.
  1. Agreement: If the parties reach a consensus, the terms of the agreement will be documented by the mediator and signed by all parties.
How to Prepare for Mediation to Ensure the Best Possible Outcome

How to Prepare for Mediation to Ensure the Best Possible Outcome

Here are five tips to help you get ready for mediation:

  1. Collect Your Evidence: Gather all relevant documents, emails, and other evidence to support your position. Having clear evidence to substantiate your side of the matter will make you more credible during negotiations.
  1. Define Your Goals: Clarify your objectives and desired outcomes before entering mediation. Understanding what you hope to achieve will help guide the process.
  1. Communicate:  Talk with your client, attorney, and the mediator prior to the mediation to be clear on the process and procedures. 
  1. Stay Open-Minded: Be ready to explore new solutions that you might not have considered. Flexibility tends to make a mutually beneficial agreement more likely.
  1. Remember the Long-Term Relationship: If it’s relevant to your situation, think about a resolution that allows for potential future involvement or collaboration with the other party.

The Steps Involved in Arbitration

Arbitration is a more formal process where parties present their case to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators who are charged with making a binding decision. Like mediation, arbitration offers a faster and often less expensive alternative to litigation.

Here are the key steps involved in arbitration:

  1. Appointment of Arbitrator(s): Parties typically agree on an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators with expertise in the subject matter of the dispute.
  1. Preliminary Hearing: The arbitrator(s) will hold a preliminary hearing to establish the rules and procedures for the arbitration process.
  1. Presentation of Evidence: Each party will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments to support their side of the case.
  1. Binding Arbitration Award: The arbitrator(s) will consider the evidence and arguments and come to a final, binding decision, called an arbitration award.
Preparing for an Effective Arbitration

Preparing for an Effective Arbitration

Like mediation, it is essential to be prepared for arbitration in order to reach the most beneficial result.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Understand the Rules: Review the arbitration rules and procedures that apply to your case to calm any anxiety and be more comfortable throughout.
  1. Gather Your Evidence: Similar to mediation, compile all relevant evidence and documents to support your case.
  1. Prepare Your Witness: If you plan to call witnesses, make sure they are adequately prepared to testify. It is advisable to have an attorney that is skilled in arbitration proceedings represent you and question witnesses on your behalf. 
  1. Evaluate What the Other Side Will Argue: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case, anticipate the arguments of the other party, and be ready to react accordingly. Your attorney can help you be prepared with responses.

Mediation and arbitration are two ways to help you find a resolution to your business dispute that meets your needs, without costly, lengthy litigation.

If you are ready to resolve your business dispute, schedule a consultation with an experienced mediator now.

Jeffrey R. Windsor, Esq

Jeffrey R. Windsor, Esq

Civil Litigation Attorney and Mediator

Jeffrey R. Windsor, Esq. is a civil litigation attorney and mediator. He established Windsor PLC in 2012 and has more than two decades of experience representing clients in complex legal matters.

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