Let’s face it; disputes are sometimes an inevitable part of life. But what happens when you can’t amicably resolve your differences with the other party due to various reasons? How do two parties who are at odds find common ground?

Essentially, that’s where dispute resolution mechanisms come in. In some cases, and usually, with the help of a dispute resolution lawyer, both parties can see eye to eye and put an issue to bed. Let’s jump right in and discuss the three basic types of dispute resolution.

1. Mediation

The idea behind mediation is to help settle a dispute. Usually, both parties meet and try to iron out their differences with the help of a neutral or impartial- and trained- third party. You may opt for medication before or after a matter is filed in court.

Mediation usually takes the form of an informal discussion. Or, you may schedule a conference with the other party. Either party voluntarily agrees to be part of a settlement conference or informal meeting, except in cases where statutes or clauses govern attendance. Some of the disputes that are good candidates for mediation include:

  • Commercial disputes
  • Personal injury
  • Divorce
  • Domestic issues
  • Employment-related concerns

Mediation helps both parties across the divide reach a consensus as opposed to imposing a solution. As such, a professional mediator’s role is to facilitate the process by allowing conflicting sides to express their feelings. Once they do, both parties can explore their grievances and interests with the hope of finding a way out.

Usually, mediation results in a voluntary and often non-binding resolution. The mediator may work with both parties or separately to hammer out a deal that addresses each party’s interests.

Many people prefer mediation since it’s inexpensive compared to litigation. Plus, a mediator such as a dispute resolution lawyer is obliged to keep proceedings confidential, meaning the matters you discuss are not a matter of public record. Similarly, it’s less time-intensive: both parties can realize a solution in less time and get on with their lives.

Besides, mediation may help preserve relationships. Unlike winner-takes-all processes that lead to the termination of relationships, mediation can quell conflict, as both parties get to freely express their interests in a non-confrontational manner. Still, even if relationships end, disputants can part ways amicably without any bad blood between them. Other benefits include:

  • Greater control by both parties over the dispute’s outcome.
  • Realization of mutually agreed-upon results.
  • Comprehensive and tailored solutions address a particular situation in light of interpersonal issues, which may be difficult to resolve through legal action.

2. Arbitration 

Just like in mediation, arbitration involves an impartial third party. However, the neutral party serves a judge, whose role is to resolve the dispute in question. Disputants may opt to include lawyers in the process to argue their case and can negotiate various elements regarding the process.

Once each party presents its side of the argument, an arbitrator makes a binding decision. Simply put, an arbitrator or arbitrating tribunal reaches a confidential decision. Consequently, they settle the matter.

Before referring a disagreement to arbitration, both parties must have an ‘arbitration agreement.’ In other words, they should have agreed in advance that their dispute or issue may be referred to arbitration. Neither party can arbitrarily decide to seek arbitration without the other’s express agreement.

Most commercial contracts include provisions detailing how to resolve disagreements that might arise. If a contract contains an arbitration agreement, both parties may pursue such a course of action. The main upsides of arbitration include:

  • Flexibility and efficiency- faster resolution and ease of scheduling
  • Less formal- involves simple procedural rules
  • Keeps matters out of the public domain
  • Closure- the arbitrator’s decision is final.

3. Litigation 

Pursuing legal action is usually a last resort for many people and organizations. Litigation involves taking a matter to court, where both parties- the defendant and plaintiff- square off before a judge and jury or judge (either is responsible for making a binding ruling by determining the side with the most persuasive argument).

Mostly, each party will have a dispute resolution attorney in their corner. And in some cases, disputants may settle a disagreement before the matter goes to trial- during evidence preparation or discovery.

Litigation can be a time-intensive and costly process. Besides, the facts of a particular case are available to the public. As such, a long-drawn dispute could undermine a firm’s reputation. But unfortunately, if both parties can’t agree on fundamental legal issues, litigation may be the way to go. If you take this route:

  • You can expect a binding result.
  • You may appeal a ruling.
  • You may rely on precedent to build your case
  • You’re assured of cooperation.

Before opting for litigation, it’s advisable to consider alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. You’ll also need to enlist a competent dispute resolution attorney from a reputable firm like McLeod Brock. That way, you can hopefully take the initial step toward reaching an amicable settlement.

By Manali