Arbitration is a cost-effective alternative to litigation. Parties may agree, voluntarily, or may be required by contract or pursuant to an applicable statute, to submit their dispute to an arbitrator. If not specified in their contract, parties select an ADR organization, with specific rules and procedures that detail the steps in the resolution process and ensure that all parties are treated fairly and equitably.
Once an arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators is selected by the parties, the dispute is submitted for consideration and a decision, known as an "award." Depending on the type of dispute, and the amount in controversy, the arbitrators may conduct hearings—much like a trial; parties may call witnesses, present evidence and argue the merits of their case. Alternatively, the parties may agree to an award based on written submissions alone. In either case, awards are made in writing, are generally final and binding on the parties, and are enforceable in court, with very limited grounds for appeal (gross injustice, collusion or fraud in the process).
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is quite different from arbitration. Unlike arbitration, it does not involve an adversarial hearing, and there is no decision-maker to issue an award. Instead, the parties are assisted by a neutral facilitator to help the parties reach a voluntary resolution.
Mediation may be formal or informal, and may be used by the parties to narrow the issues that are ultimately submitted to an arbitrator or to a court.
Our Role As Counsel Or Neutral
We encourage our clients to resolve disputes without resorting to litigation and will serve as counsel in various types of ADR proceedings.
Alternatively, Maura Smith will serve as a neutral. She is a Panel Member of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1926. The AAA offers a wide range of arbitration services; its panel of arbitrators includes more than 7,000 individuals located around the world who have been screened through a rigorous selection process and undergo continuous training. Arbitrators’ conduct is guided by the AAA’s Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes. Please go the AAA website for further information at www.ADR.org.