Arbitration is the resolution of a dispute using an arbitrator, which is a third party that is hired to act as a judge in the dispute. The advantage of using an arbitrator is that he or she may be an expert in the field, and thus may understand the dispute better then a standard civil judge who hears cases of all types and for all industries.
The case may be heard by a single arbitraitor or a panel of arbitrators that are selected by the parties. If there is a single arbitrator, he or she is usually selected based on the mutual agreement of the parties. If there are 3 arbitrators, each party will usually pick one with the third either being mutually agreed upon or selected by the other two arbitrators.
In addition to allowing for more specialized decision makers, the other advantage to mediation is the expediated timeline for arbitration. A court case may take a year or longer to get to trial. In contrast, an arbitration hearing be heard only a few months after it is filed.
With that being said, a fast timeline is not always a good thing. Our court system has a protracted litigation process because it provides an opportunity for the parties to flesh out the strengths and weaknesses of the respective claims and to obtain evidence from the other parties. Because of the short time line, this is not always possible in an arbitration hearing so it is important for the attorney to be able to think on his or her feet during an arbitration hearing as the arguments may not be what was expected or may focus on items that were not fully explored prior to the hearing.
The other disadvantage to arbitration is the cost. Unlike the court system that is funded by tax payers, the arbitrators are paid by the parties. Additionally, the organization that coordinates the arbitration, such as the American Arbitration Assocation, will often charge a fee for its services. As such, arbitration can often be more expensive than litigation and those costs will be due on a much quicker payment schedule than if a matter was litigated in the courts.
We have experience with arbitration and would be happy to help with your next dispute that is to be decided through arbitration. Because of the compressed timeline and additional costs, we can not provide a fixed cost for all arbitration matters. With that being said, if you contact us, we will provide a set fee for your specific arbitration matter.