The effects of COVID-19 on our way of life are felt everywhere. No matter what you do for a living, your work has undoubtedly been affected by Covid. The legal field is no different. If you are involved in a lawsuit, you know full well that Covid has made a slow process significantly slower—especially if your matter is bogged down in the court system, where access to the courtroom is extremely limited.
Since COVID reared its ugly head, I have been advising my clients to consider alternate methods of resolving their legal disputes. Clients who have taken that advice are happy they did. Those alternate methods include mediation and arbitration. While courts are dealing with unprecedented backlogs of cases, lawsuits are lingering, legal fees are rising, and disputes that in normal times would have already been scheduled for trial, are left unresolved. For those reasons, litigants who are willing to explore mediation or arbitration are resolving their disputes much faster and more cost effectively than those who are less flexible.
What Is the Difference Between Mediation & Arbitration?
Mediation is a process where the mutual consent of the parties is necessary to resolve a dispute. Essentially, mediation is similar to a settlement conference where a hired mediator acts as an intermediary to assist the parties in reaching a resolution. While the process itself is voluntary, any agreement reached at a mediation will be binding on all parties. It is the most cost-effective method of resolving a dispute.
Arbitration is much different than mediation. Parties can voluntarily submit their matter to arbitration, or, depending on the nature of the parties’ relationship, they can be contractually obligated to resolve their dispute through arbitration. Arbitration is similar to a trial but is held outside of the courthouse and is presided by an arbitrator, who is typically hired by the parties. At the arbitration hearing, the parties present testimony and documentary evidence, just as they would in a trial. At the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrator issues a decision, which is binding on the parties and, except for very rare circumstances, is not subject to reversal by appeal.
Whichever alternative dispute resolution process works for you, our firm has been resolving disputes between parties outside of court for decades. Ocean and Monmouth County residents looking to expedite the legal process and have their issues resolved in a cost-efficient manner can contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. of Bathgate Wegener & Wolf.