Arbitration and mediation have a few similarities, but are actually very different. Mediation is a voluntary negotiation that occurs prior to a trial. Arbitration, on the other hand, is not voluntary and isn’t the preferred route for our clients at the Segal Law Firm.
Mediation involves an unbiased, disinterested party who has no stake in the outcome of the lawsuit. The mediator will basically go back and forth between the two sides to see if there is a number that can be agreed on voluntarily. The case can go to trial, if a number isn’t agreed by all parties.
Arbitration is often agreed to at the onset of an agreement. For instance, labor unions have arbitration agreements in the event that their employers are fired or terminated for some reason. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t realize that there is an arbitration agreement and they don’t find out until they’ve been wronged.
In arbitration, one or three people will be selected by the sides to arbitrate. The arbitrators can be chosen in various ways. Generally, you start with a long list and scratch out people you don’t want until you arrive at the ones you do. Sometimes one side picks the first arbitrator and the other side picks the second. Those two will then choose the third.
After the arbitrators are chosen, there will be a full blown hearing, which is run much like a trial, except there is no jury or judge. The arbitrator will hear both sides of the story, see all of the evidence, and then arrive at a decision that is binding. Their decision is final, which is why Segal Law Firm doesn’t favor this method.
We want our clients to have the opportunity to choose whether or not they want to settle or move to trial, so we prefer the voluntary mediation process. If you have questions about the difference between the processes, as they can be confusing, feel free to call us toll free at 855-344-9100.