The courthouse is not the only place to resolve civil disputes. Many cases are settled through alternative forms of dispute resolution ("ADR"). Two of the most common forms are mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a forum where a neutral third party facilitates communication between parties to promote settlement. A mediator may not impose his or her own judgment on the issues for that of the parties and has no authority to decide the issues. The goal of mediation is for the parties to reach their own agreement to resolve the dispute.
Arbitration is a forum where each party and its counsel present their positions before a neutral third party who decides the issues and issues a specific award. If the parties stipulate in advance, the award is binding and is enforceable in the same manner as any contractual obligation. If the parties do not stipulate that the award is binding, the award is not binding and a request for trial may be made.
Either mediation or arbitration can be used by mutual agreement of the parties to a dispute. This can happen either before or after a lawsuit is started.
When selecting an arbitrator or mediator, one factor to consider is whether or not the person has been trained and qualified as a Rule 114 Neutral under the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts of Minnesota. Among other things, this rule establishes certain training that a person must have before that person is considered a "qualified" Rule 114 Neutral. Swenson Lervick attorney Tom Jacobson has met those qualifications.
ADR is a highly effective way to resolve disputes while reducing (and in some cases, eliminating) the expense and duration of lawsuits, but it also involves giving up the protections of the judicial process. Therefore, before agreeing to ADR, please contact us to learn more about your rights. This includes situations where a contract you may be considering includes an arbitration clause.
And, if you are searching for a mediator or arbitrator, please contact Tom Jacobson to discuss his availability.
The information in this article is for general information purposes only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For legal advice regarding your situation, please contact an attorney.