Legal Topics


The Basics of Legal Arbitration

Disputes and other types of conflict are a natural part of life. However, when it comes to the legal system, not every dispute is settled through a lawsuit or other court case. There's an alternative resolution known as arbitration.

Legal arbitration is the process by which a dispute is sent to an impartial professional who can mediate between the parties in conflict. Unlike a lawsuit, arbitration does not have to take place before a judge.

The most common type of arbitration is private arbitration, where the mediator between the two parties is a neutral individual who is qualified to handle the dispute. For example, a negotiator might settle a dispute between a labor union and an employer. The other common type is known as judicial arbitration, where arises during the course of a dispute based on a statute, court ruling, or state regulation. This is where most lawsuits occur.

In most cases, when both parties seek out arbitration, it's used as a springboard for beginning a round of negotiation. Instead of taking the issue to court and spending so much time and money on litigation, the people involved in the conflict can resolve it through a formal negotiation period once the matter has been brought to someone's legal attention. A legal arbitration will also feature confidentiality, unlike a court case where all details and disputes are put into the public record.

When starting the process for arbitration, it can appear at first glance to be very similar to a courtroom trial. After both parties have chosen a mediator, evidence is presented, arguments are made, and witnesses are called to testify and face cross-examination. However, instead of facing a judge and jury, the matter will be presented to one or more arbitrators. And unlike a judge who is bound to examine the case against the language of state and federal laws, an arbitrator will be more focused on ensuring a fair deal between the parties to a dispute. The arbitrator will also likely be an expert in a field relevant to the dispute, so that their resolution to the case will be one that fits it best.

However, one major downside to the arbitration process is that it is non-binding. There is no judge or jury who can mandate what must follow once the dispute has been settled, including any and all compensation to one or both parties. Nevertheless, it remains a popular legal practice and will continue to be an effective conflict resolution strategy for years to come.

Image by alphis tay on Flickr

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