Litigation and Arbitration FAQ

1. What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Both arbitration and mediation are referred to as “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR), since both offer private, efficient solutions to conflicts rather than drawn-out legal battles in more formal court settings.

2. What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

In mediation, the parties agree that a qualified neutral, usually a lawyer or someone with specific knowledge of the dispute, will meet with all parties and attempt to bring the parties to a settlement. The mediator has no power to force a decision on anyone, but may attempt to persuade the parties to compromise. In arbitration, either one, or sometimes a panel of three, qualified neutral arbitrators (usually lawyers or retired judges) hear both sides of the case in a format more like that of a trial. The arbitrators will hear from witnesses and review documents. The arbitrators then make a decision.

3. What happens during arbitration?

The arbitrator initiates the hearing by swearing in the parties and witnesses who will testify. The parties then give opening arguments and present both documentary and testimonial evidence. The attorneys question the witnesses and the arbitrator may ask questions if necessary. Rebuttal questions are allowed. Arbitration hearings, unlike trials, are not open to the public. Everything discussed in the context of the hearing is confidential and any matters disclosed often are not discoverable in future proceedings.

4. What happens after arbitration?

The arbitrator will make known the decision of the arbitration to both parties. The decision is final. Either party has the opportunity to request the arbitrator to correct any errors provided. In addition, either party may then seek confirmation of and/or file the arbitrator’s decision with a court. The case is resolved and both parties agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision.

5. How is a case arbitrated or mediated?

All that is needed is a written agreement between the disputing parties to submit the matter to Alternative Dispute Resolution. An agreement for ADR can be made before any dispute arises, through inclusion of arbitration and/or mediation clauses in contracts, or the parties can agree to ADR any time after a dispute arises.