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12/18/15 Arbitration, Mediation or Litigation

At this week’s meeting of The Presidents Forum, Christopher E. Hartmann, Esq. talked about arbitration and mediation. Hartmann encouraged everyone to consider alternative dispute resolution instead of a traditional lawsuit. He advised that this has to be done at contract formation, when a potential dispute may not be foreseeable. Chris explained that mediation is a non-binding settlement discussion with a neutral facilitator. It may resolve issues before litigation is commenced. Arbitration on the other hand, can be binding or not, but it has its own shortcomings, especially if administered by AAA, which can be very costly. Arbitration of commercial disputes can often take as long as a law suit. Also, if multiple parties are involved, the result could be piecemeal and duplicate cases if every party has not agreed to arbitrate. The decision is not always a simple one. These procedures must be by agreement and Hartmann counseled it is a mistake to accept such contract provisions uncritically. The roundtable members agreed there will always be disputes but some are less costly to resolve than others.

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