Alternative Dispute Resolution in Arizona
The fact is that litigation is expensive and requires a significant investment of one’s time to see a case to trial. In the business world, though, time is money: the longer a lawsuit remains unresolved, the more time and business resources it can potentially consume. Think of your own business: can it afford to have pending litigation that is months, or even years, old? Some of the delay and cost of a business dispute can be reduced by hiring an experienced and aggressive business law attorney who will ensure your cause is advanced in a timely manner. However, not all delays can be avoided: courts’ calendars become tied up, attorneys’ schedules leave little time for new or emergency hearings, and litigants themselves may become ill or be required to handle an emergency at the business.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
Alternative dispute resolution is an option for litigants who wish to resolve their case outside of the court system. Using a form of alternative dispute resolution can oftentimes resolve a minor dispute or disagreement much more swiftly and less expensively than having the issue decided by a court. There are three common forms of ADR in use today:
- Settlements: A settlement is an agreement between the parties that resolves the merits of the dispute. Usually the only people involved in a settlement are the parties themselves and their legal counsel. A settlement agreement can contain nearly any legal condition or term (parties cannot, of course, settle their dispute with one party agreeing to perform a criminal act). Settlement agreements are reduced to writing and signed by the involved parties: this settlement agreement, then, becomes an enforceable contract.
- Mediation: If the parties cannot resolve their differences themselves, they may employ a neutral third party to help them mediate the dispute. The mediator’s job is to encourage the parties to dialogue with one another, voice their concerns and disagreements, and help them brainstorm possible resolutions to the dispute. A mediator may make recommendations as to how the dispute may be resolved, but these recommendations are not binding and either party is free to reject them. If an agreement is reached, it will be reduced to writing and signed by all parties, including the mediator. This agreement then becomes a binding and enforceable contract.
- Arbitration: Another ADR option (and one favored by many businesses) is arbitration. Like mediation, arbitration involves submitting the dispute to a neutral third party (called the arbiter). However, the similarities between the two ADR options ends there. In arbitration, each side presents the merits of their cases to the arbiter in an abbreviated and relaxed “mini-trial” (relaxed in that normal rules of evidence usually are not as strictly enforced as they would be at a trial before a judge). The arbiter then makes a decision resolving the case that becomes binding on both parties. Depending on the terms of any contract involved, a party who believes the arbiter decided the dispute wrongly may have a right to appeal an arbiter’s decision to a court.
Legal Counsel is Still Advised During ADR
If you are not careful, you may waive important legal rights and remedies through ADR without realizing it. It is always advisable to have an attorney assist you with a legal dispute, even if you intend to resolve that dispute through an alternative dispute resolution method. Patrick J. Monahan of the Monahan Law Firm, PLC is an experienced and dedicated business law attorney who looks after the best interests of his business clients. He is a trusted ally throughout the duration of your dispute and will work hard to ensure your rights are safeguarded and that you receive the best possible outcome in your case. Contact him at (623) 385-3190.
If you are struggling with a business contract dispute, call Monahan Law Firm, PLC at (623) 385-3190. We serve businesses located throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Avondale, Buckeye, Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Sun City, Surprise, Tempe, and all of Maricopa County.