When you are trying to settle a dispute, there are more ways to do so than heading straight to the courtroom. In fact, in Florida, you are required to complete mediation prior to any litigation. You can complete alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration, for a number of different types of issues, such as real estate and construction matters, or even issues with the homeowners' association.
Finding an alternative method to resolve your dispute, outside of the courtroom, can be beneficial for all parties involved.
What is litigation?
Litigation is when you and the disputing party are assigned a court date to meet in front of a judge in order to resolve your legal issues. Typically, when individuals think of litigation, a traditional lawsuit is what comes to mind. You each hire lawyers who battle your disagreement in front of a judge or jury, and at the end the judge comes to a decision. One or both parties may want to avoid litigation because the process can be both lengthy and expensive.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration takes place out of the courtroom. You will hire a third party, called an arbitrator, to meet with and come to an agreement. With arbitration, the arbitrator hears all of the evidence you and the opposing party have before he or she comes to a conclusion. In this way, it is similar to litigation, in that the arbitrator is still the one coming to a decision, only it is out of the courtroom and in private. Some individuals prefer this method, as it can be cost effective and private.
What is mediation?
Mediators are the least similar to a traditional trial. Both parties meet with a mediator, who helps them work out their issues and come to an agreement. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator does not make any final decisions or hear evidence. They are solely a catalyst who helps both parties come to a mutual agreement. Many enjoy this method because they are able to have some control over the conclusion, it often takes less time, and it can be less money.
It is important to note that arbitration and mediation can still lead to litigation. If the methods that the arbitrator or the mediator use are not effective in coming to a solution, the case may be sent to court.