Going to court is almost always the costliest way to resolve a contract dispute. Other options include mediation and arbitration. There are instances when these two provide an opportunity for you to get a fair resolution. Other times, the opposing party may use it as an excuse to lowball you. So, when should you accept an alternative means over going to court?
Entrepreneur.com shares that if you decide to go to court, your case might get decided in two ways. There’s either a jury making the decision or the judge handles the decision-making process on their own. Arbitration is like a trial, but much smaller and a lot more private. Mediation is also private but takes place outside of a courtroom. This negotiation process involves a neutral third party that facilitates the discussions so both parties can come to an agreeable solution.
Even though mediation and arbitration are more private, you and/or the other party need to hire qualified professionals for this role. Virtually every civil case that can go to court might have an option for mediation instead. On the other hand, opportunities for arbitration may vary across jurisdictions.
Some states are so supportive of mediation that they require it before proceeding with a trial. In other instances, both parties must agree to either arbitration or mediation for it to proceed. One factor that may create an exception to this is if the contract stipulated that either arbitration or mediation should be the course of action for resolving any disputes.
Which option you choose ultimately depends on your specific needs. To ensure they do not get taken advantage of, many people seek independent legal counsel.